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Explaining government revenue windfalls and shortfalls: an analysis for selected EU countries

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  • Morris, Richard
  • de Castro Fernández, Francisco
  • Jonk, Steven
  • Kremer, Jana
  • Linehan, Suzanne
  • Marino, Maria Rosaria
  • Schalck, Christophe
  • Tkacevs, Olegs

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 Classification: H20, H68, E62

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1114.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20091114

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Keywords: cyclical adjustment; Fiscal forecasting; tax revenues;

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  1. Bouthevillain, C. & Van Den Dool, G. & Langenus, G. & Mohr, M. & Momigliano, S. & Tujula, M. & De Cos, P.H. & Cour-Thimann, Philippine, 2001. "Cyclically Adjusted Budget Balances: an Alternative Approach," Papers 77, Quebec a Montreal - Recherche en gestion.
  2. Nathalie Girouard & Christophe André, 2005. "Measuring Cyclically-adjusted Budget Balances for OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 434, OECD Publishing.
  3. Morris, Richard & Schuknecht, Ludger, 2007. "Structural balances and revenue windfalls: the role of asset prices revisited," Working Paper Series 0737, European Central Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Philip Lane, 2010. "Some Lessons for Fiscal Policy from the Financial Crisis," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp334, IIIS.
  2. Le, Tuan Minh & Moreno-Dodson, Blanca & Bayraktar, Nihal, 2012. "Tax capacity and tax effort : extended cross-country analysis from 1994 to 2009," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6252, The World Bank.
  3. Andersen, Torben M., 2013. "Fiscal policy targeting under imperfect information," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 114-130.
  4. Francisco de Castro & Laura Fernández, 2013. "The Effects Of Fiscal Shocks On The Exchange Rate In Spain," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 44(2), pages 151-180.
  5. Klaus Vondra, 2013. "Austria Withstands Recession: Return to Positive Growth in Early 2013," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 6–11.
  6. Johannes Holler & Lukas Reiss, 2011. "What to Expect from the Latest Reform of the Stability and Growth Pact," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 4, pages 85–98.

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