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Tax Reforms in EU Member States 2011: tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability

Fiscal sustainability and economic growth are key concerns at the current juncture. The focus of tax policy has now shifted away from stimulus measures towards a much needed consolidation of public finances, made even more necessary in light of the difficulties currently faced by some Member States in refinancing their sovereign debt. At the same time, tax policies may play an important role in enhancing the growth potential of the EU economy, which is a goal per se but also a condition for making public finance sustainable. A growth-friendly tax structure is particularly important to cope with today's policy challenges. As a background for the analysis, the 2011 issue of the report ‘Tax reforms in EU Member States’, subtitled this year as ‘Tax policy challenges for economic growth and fiscal sustainability’, provides an overview of recent trends in tax revenues and of tax measures adopted in Member States in 2010 and the first half of 2011. In addition to these descriptive chapters, this year's report provides an analytical focus on two topics of particular relevance at the current juncture. The first analytical chapter of the report addresses the multi-faceted concept of the quality of taxation – particularly relevant for any future tax reforms – with a particular focus on the tax structure. A ‘good’ tax system should design taxes so as to reduce distortions to the minimum possible and, where appropriate, correct market failures. Well-designed tax reforms promoting employment and growth can go hand in hand with social equity. To avoid adverse interaction between cross-country tax systems, tax policies should benefit from an efficient coordination at the EU level. The second analytical chapter discusses three types of potential challenges in the area of tax policy currently faced by EU Member States: (i) addressing severe fiscal consolidation challenges also on the revenue side, (ii) making the overall tax structure more growth friendly and (iii) improving the design of the tax system for individual types of taxes. Applying an indicator-based approach, the report identifies in which euro-area Member States higher tax revenues might potentially contribute to consolidation and which countries might benefit from a shift from labour taxes, in particular those bearing on vulnerable groups, to consumption and real estate taxes. Analysing more specific horizontal challenges related to the design of individual taxes, the report concludes that almost all euro-area Member States face at least one challenge.

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Paper provided by Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission in its series Taxation Papers with number 28.

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Length: 138 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Handle: RePEc:tax:taxpap:0028
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