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Jana Kremer

16 January 2006
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 579
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Abstract
In this paper, we present a disaggregated framework for the analysis of past and projected structural developments in the most relevant revenue and expenditure categories and the fiscal balance. The framework, in particular, distinguishes between the effects of discretionary fiscal policy and of macroeconomic and other developments and is sufficiently standardised to be used in multi-country studies. Here, it is applied to Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal over the period 1998 to 2004. During this period the structural primary balance ratio clearly worsened in all countries except Finland. In Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, both revenue and expenditure contributed to the deterioration of the structural primary balance. In Germany the large deterioration in revenue was partially offset by the decline in the structural primary expenditure ratio, while the opposite was true for Portugal. The analysis highlights the various factors that contributed to these developments.
JEL Code
H20 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue→General
H50 : Public Economics→National Government Expenditures and Related Policies→General
H60 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→General
E69 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Other
30 November 2009
WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 1114
Details
Abstract
In recent years, government revenues in many EU countries experienced significant and erratic changes, which, a priori, could not be fully explained by macroeconomic developments or by discretionary fiscal policy measures. We investigate this issue by estimating “unexplained” changes in tax and social contribution revenues, based on proxies for tax revenue bases and elasticities commonly used for forecasting or cyclically adjusting government revenues and taking into account estimates of the impact of legislation changes. This is done for a selection of EU countries, including the “big five” euro area countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands) together with Ireland, Latvia and Portugal. We also undertake the same exercise using alternative tax base proxies, either taken from forecasting models or on the basis of our knowledge of the tax system in each country. The results show that, in the aggregate, revenue windfalls and shortfalls have exhibited a broadly cyclical pattern, driven mainly by developments in profit-related taxes and, to a somewhat lesser extent, VAT. Other, more structural factors also play a role, such as declining consumption of fuel and tobacco, as well as factors specific to individual countries, such as developments in property markets. The estimated revenue windfalls and shortfalls can explain a substantial proportion of changes in the euro area cyclically adjusted budget balance over the period 1999-2007. Since these unexplained revenue changes have exhibited a largely cyclical character and might therefore be viewed as partly temporary, this highlights the importance of a careful interpretation of fiscal indicators adjusted for the economic cycle. Except in a small number of cases, the results do not change significantly when alternative tax base proxies are used, suggesting that the potential for improving existing indicators by a better matching of taxes to their bases is likely to be limited.
JEL Code
H20 : Public Economics→Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue→General
H68 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→Forecasts of Budgets, Deficits, and Debt
E62 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook→Fiscal Policy