IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Tax systems in transition


  • Mitra, Pradeep
  • Stern, Nicholas


How have tax systems, whose primary role is to raise resources to finance public expenditures, evolved in the transition countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union? The authors find that: (1) the ratio of tax revenue-to-GDP decreased largely due to a fall in revenue from corporate income tax; (2) the fall in revenue from the corporate income tax led to a decline in the importance of income taxes, notwithstanding a rise in the share of individual income tax; (3) social security contributions together with payroll taxes became less important in the Commonwealth of Independent States; and (4) domestic indirect taxes gained in importancein overall tax revenues. Apart from the increased role of personal income taxation, these developments go in a direction opposite to those observed in poor countries as they get richer. They show a key aspect of transition, namely a movement from a system where the government exercised a preeminent claim on output and income before citizens had access to the remainder, to one with a greatly diminished role for the public sector, as reflected in a lower ratio of public expenditure to GDP, where the government needs to collect revenue in order to spend. Can expected levels of public expenditure be financed by the basic instruments of a modern tax system without creating significant distortions in the private sector? The authors suggest that transition countries, depending on their stage of development, should aim for a tax revenue-to-GDP ratio in the range of 22 to 31 percent, comprising value-added tax (6 to 7 percent), excises (2 to 3 percent), income tax (6 to 9 percent), social security contribution together with payroll tax (6 to 10 percent), and other taxes such as on trade and on property (2 percent). The authors'analysis also sheds light on the links between tax policy, tax administration, and the investment climate in transition countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Mitra, Pradeep & Stern, Nicholas, 2003. "Tax systems in transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2947, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2947

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. World Bank, 2002. "Transition, The First Ten Years : Analysis and Lessons for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14042, December.
    2. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McNab, Robert M., 2000. "The Tax Reform Experiment in Transitional Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(2), pages 273-298, June.
    3. Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McNab, Robert M., 2000. "The Tax Reform Experiment in Transitional Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 2), pages 273-98, June.
    4. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "Lessons From Behavioral Responses to International Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 52(2), pages 305-322, June.
    5. Burgess, Robin & Stern, Nicholas, 1993. "Taxation and Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 762-830, June.
    6. Hines, James R. Jr., 1999. "Lessons from Behavioral Responses to International Taxation," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 305-22, June.
    7. Agha, Ali & Haughton, Jonathan, 1996. "Designing VAT Systems: Some Efficiency Considerations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(2), pages 303-308, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Brügelmann, Ralph & Fuest, Winfried, 2004. "Die öffentlichen Finanzen der EU-Beitrittskandidaten," IW-Trends – Vierteljahresschrift zur empirischen Wirtschaftsforschung, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute, vol. 31(1), pages 50-55.
    2. Morawski, Leszek & Myck, Michal, 2010. "'Klin'-ing up: Effects of Polish tax reforms on those in and on those out," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 556-566, June.
    3. Evelin, Ahermaa & Luigi, Bernardi, 2004. "Tax polici in new EU members: Estonia and othr Baltic states," MPRA Paper 18158, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Bernardi, Luigi, 2009. "Le tasse in Europa dagli anni novanta
      [Taxation in Europe since the Years 1990s]
      ," MPRA Paper 23441, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Carmignani, Fabrizio, 2008. "The impact of fiscal policy on private consumption and social outcomes in Europe and the CIS," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 575-598, March.
    6. Richard M. Bird, "undated". "VAT in Ukraine: An Interim Report," International Tax Program Papers 0503 Revised, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2947. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.