Bernardin Akitoby, Sanjeev Gupta, Abdelhak Senhadji, 18 July 2015

There has been a heated debate about the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a countercyclical tool but little evidence on how it can support growth. This column shows that fiscal policy can lift medium- and long-term growth in both advanced and developing economies. But all fiscal reforms are not equal in their growth dividend. Successful reforms are often part of a broader reform package and can balance the growth-equity trade-off.

Joan Paredes, Javier J. Pérez, Gabriel Pérez-Quirós, 12 July 2015

Uncertainty about fiscal policies can be damaging for economic performance, as it affects decisions about consumption, investment, and savings. This column argues that it is possible to reduce such uncertainty. Even if governments’ fiscal plans turn out to be (purposely) wrong ex post, they can convey useful information. It is just a matter of using the appropriate learning device whereby government promises are confronted every quarter with reality (i.e. what the government is actually doing).

Li Liu, Ben Lockwood , 09 July 2015

Most countries have a threshold below which businesses do not need to register for value added tax (VAT). This column looks at the costs and efficiency of VAT by analysing behavioural responses of firms to the registration threshold. Voluntary registration appears more likely when the cost of inputs is high or when the proportion of business-to-consumer sales is low. There is bunching around the threshold, and this is more likely when the cost of inputs relative to sales is low or the proportion of business-to-consumer sales is high.

Sven Langedijk, Gaëtan Nicodème, Andrea Pagano, Alessandro Rossi, 04 July 2015

Strengthening the banking sector through higher equity capital is one of the key elements of policies aiming to reduce the probability of crises. However, the ‘corporate debt bias’ – the tendency of corporate tax systems to favour debt over equity – is at odds with this objective. This column estimates the benefits for financial stability of eliminating the corporate debt bias. Fully removing the debt bias is estimated to reduce potential public finance losses by between 25 and 55% for the six large EU countries sampled. 

Michael P. Devereux, Clemens Fuest, Ben Lockwood , 12 June 2015

Tax avoidance by multinational firms is a complex challenge for national governments and the global tax system. Increasingly, high-income countries have been moving from foreign tax credit systems, to exempting foreign source income from domestic taxation. This column investigates how foreign profits should be taxed, taking into account the economic role of capital ownership. Domestic tax rates should ensure optimal allocation between domestic and foreign assets, while the tax base should be set to ensure asset purchases are undistorted. Countries may be forced to change their tax systems in more fundamental ways, however, as the mobility and flexibility of multinational corporations continues to grow.

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