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Index of Fiscal Decentralisation: Methodology and Findings


  • Price Victoria Curzon

    (University of Geneva)

  • Garello Jacques

    (University of Aix-Marseille III)


The Index of Fiscal Decentralisation (IFD) could be a very helpful quantitative instrument while radical changes in European organisation are just now coming. The IFD permits a comparison between fifteen European countries (including Switzerland). It is based on five variables indicative of the respective weights of central and local governments: how is allocated the total amount of fiscal revenues and spending, which level has the power to determine the tax base, the tax rates and types of taxation, as well as the way they are used, what is the possibility for taxpayers to control and to take legal proceedings at different levels?The results make clear that in most of the European countries (except Switzerland) the fiscal centralisation is high, and that there is wide deviation of the index. So the prospect of a fiscal harmonisation seems to be very weak in the short term. The paper leads to the concept of fiscal coherence: the worst situation is that of taxation designed and collected at one level, and of spending at another one. Hence actors in the fiscal system are irresponsible and taxpayers powerless.Lindice de décentralisation fiscale est un instrument de mesure particulièrement appréciable au moment où un changement radical intervient dans lorganisation de lEurope. Il permet de comparer quinze pays européens (dont la Suisse). Il est construit à partir de cinq variables significatives des poids respectifs des administrations centrales et locales : comment se répartit la masse des recettes et des dépenses, qui détient le pouvoir de décision sur les assiettes, les taux et les modalités des prélèvements et lusage qui en est fait, quelles sont les possibilités de contrôle et de recours des contribuables aux différents niveaux ? Les résultats font apparaître un niveau plutôt élevé de centralisation dans la plupart des pays (la Suisse étant la seule exception notable), et une forte dispersion de lindice.Les perspectives dune harmonisation fiscale semblent donc très réduites à court terme. Létude débouche sur le concept de « cohérence fiscale » : la pire des situations est celle où les prélèvem- ents sont décidés à un niveau, et les dépenses à un autre ; les acteurs de la fiscalité sont alors irresponsables et les contribuables impuissants.

Suggested Citation

  • Price Victoria Curzon & Garello Jacques, 2003. "Index of Fiscal Decentralisation: Methodology and Findings," Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines, De Gruyter, vol. 13(4), pages 1-40, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:jeehcn:v:13:y:2003:i:4:n:2

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    Cited by:

    1. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "The Role of Direct Democracy and Federalism in Local Power," IEW - Working Papers 209, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.

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