IMF


IMF Warns Luxembourg Over Surplus

Posted on March 7th, by Global Tax Weekly in IMF, Individual Taxation, Offshore, Sales Tax. No Comments

It is possible to have sympathy for governments on occasion; there seem to be instances when they just can’t win. They’re constantly being told by the likes of the OECD and the IMF to eradicate special tax regimes, widen their tax bases, reduce income taxes where possible, and shift the tax burden onto consumption. Luxembourg is one country doing just that. Last year, the Government decided to phase out its patent box regime – exactly the sort of special tax regime the OECD sees as largely responsible for BEPS – and late last month it announced reductions in income tax for companies and low- and middle-income workers. These measures come after a 2 percent increase in the standard rate of value-added tax in 2015. Yet, according to the IMF, this is still wrong – the tax cuts are viewed as … Read More »


Functioning Better Than Many Supposed

Posted on August 24th, by Global Tax Weekly in IMF, OECD, Sales Tax. No Comments

It is to South Africa I turn to next. In 2013, the Government set up a committee of tax experts to review the country’s tax system. The overarching aim of this exercise is — in the words of the Government — to “assess our tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development, and fiscal sustainability.” It’s a sentence that could have been lifted word-for-word from an OECD report on tax-to-GDP ratios. But it’s actually fairly easy to translate this official-speak: for phrases like “inclusive growth” and “fiscal sustainability,” read “more spending and more tax.” Being the cynic that I am, I suspect that the Government probably set up the Davis Tax Committee, as it has come to be known, in the hope that its conclusions would help to justify its argument for certain … Read More »


The Greek Tragedy Act III

Posted on November 2nd, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, Currency, IMF, Individual Taxation, Trade. No Comments

It’s not easy to find positives where Greece is concerned, but this benighted country, which could be teetering on the brink of economic oblivion once again, came out surprisingly well in a recent report on the taxation of ICT goods and services – computers, cell phones, tablets, internet access and an array of other digitally-delivered services – around the world. While other industries continue to contribute more taxes to help pull Greece out of its fiscal Slough of Despond, the ICT sector is getting away rather lightly according to the report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which found that Greece is the only OECD country to feature in the top-20 of its league table, with an overall tax and tariff burden of less than 10 percent. Tragically, but at the same time unsurprisingly, the countries with the highest … Read More »


Japanese Hi-Jinx

Posted on June 8th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, Corporation Tax, IMF. No Comments

We are seeing a series of improbable developments in Japan, as previously unthinkable changes seem to be swallowed wholesale by an economy which was thought to be on terminal life-support. There now seems to be wide acceptance that it will be possible to make further cuts in corporate tax rates while continuing to beef up sales taxes. Even the IMF agrees that this is the correct strategy, while of course continuing to insist on the need for measures to address the country’s indebtedness: 240 percent of GDP and rising. Due to the fact that a very high proportion of the debt is held by domestic savers, who have historically been prepared to accept low interest rates, the average rate paid by the Government is a mere 1 percent. But the budget deficit this year is likely to be 11 percent … Read More »


Summer Dreams

Posted on June 1st, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Currency, IMF. No Comments

In Russia, they dream in winter; but in Greece they dream in summer. Because it’s too cold in the first case, and I suppose because it’s too hot in the second. At all events, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is promising to reduce all types of tax over the next few years, and predicts EUR55bn of incoming investment over the same period. There are a few inconvenient factlets standing in his way, however, and we won’t even consider the fractured state of Greek politics. First, GDP has shrunk by more than 25 percent since recession hit in 2008, and continued to fall in the first quarter of 2014; second, the unemployment rate increased in the first quarter of 2014 to about 27 percent, and in the 15 – 24 year age group is running at 57 percent; third, Greece has been … Read More »


Eastern Western

Posted on May 25th, by Global Tax Weekly in Corporation Tax, IMF, Individual Taxation. No Comments

A re-run of the classic tax western is taking place in the Philippines, in which the bad guys want to raise taxes in all directions while the good guy (Ronald Reagan?) believes that reducing tax rates will result in more tax being paid. The part of the Gipper is being played by Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who wants to cut the country’s 30 percent corporate tax rate (the highest in South-East Asia), while tax professionals gasp with horror, needless to say. Well, how’s about some facts? In April, the Philippines Department of Finance disclosed a 26 percent rise in collections of import duties, taxes and fees in the first quarter of the year. In money terms that’s equivalent to USD500m (USD2bn annualized), while our hero predicts a loss of just USD160m in corporate tax receipts in the first year of … Read More »


Plurilateral Pests

Posted on May 21st, by Global Tax Weekly in IMF, OECD. No Comments

It would be a brave girl who asserted that she understood the economic situation of Egypt, except to say that it is dire; but it seems a reasonable proposition that the IMF (from which the government is hoping to borrow USD15bn or some such number) was behind this week’s five percent increase in the top rate of tax. Individual well-off Egyptians are round about 99 times cleverer than any government they have had in the past 50 years or are ever likely to have, so this has to be regarded as a piece of window-dressing. But other IMF prescriptions this week also follow the usual tax-increasing path: in Luxembourg it’s VAT and property taxes; in Lithuania it’s property taxes and vehicles; in Latvia it’s the flat tax thresholds. And here is a particularly abysmal example of first world high-taxing double-speak … Read More »


Broken Europe

Posted on April 27th, by Global Tax Weekly in Banking, Budgets, IMF, Individual Taxation. No Comments

A fall in average deficits in the Eurozone and the European Union in 2013 sounds like good news, but lift the hood and the picture is not so pretty. Total debt in the Eurozone (17 countries) increased to 92.6 percent of gross domestic product from 90.7 percent in 2012, ever further above the European Union’s Maastricht limit of 60 percent. For the whole EU, debt increased from 85.2 percent of GDP to 87.1 percent. Obviously these figures reflect a mismatch between income and expenditure. It’s not however the case that public expenditure increased everywhere: although in France public spending reached a record 57.1 percent of GDP, overall EU public spending fell marginally to just less than 50 percent. Alongside increases in debt, the falls in deficits merely testify to a concomitant increase in tax revenues which ate into the gap … Read More »


Tilting At Windmills

Posted on January 29th, by Global Tax Weekly in Budgets, IMF, Individual Taxation. No Comments

Spain’s Rajoy has promised income tax cuts in 2015, so half a cheer for him for at least talking the talk. But will he walk the walk? Perhaps more credibly, the Finance Minister would only say that he is not planning a VAT rise “for now.” If they weren’t politicians, they wouldn’t even begin to consider lowering taxes at this moment in history: the deficit for 2013 was probably just over 6 percent, while debt was 84 percent of GDP in 2013 and is expected to rise to 94 percent in 2014. While these figures aren’t as catastrophic as those for Greece (and Italy’s debt stands at 135 percent of GDP and rising), they are quite frightening. What they ought to do, of course, is to cut public spending, even though that would increase already massive unemployment (26 percent). But … Read More »





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