This IMF working paper analyses tax expenditures in Italy, considering the extent to which tax expenditures can be considered part of an optimal tax system and possible reforms.
The IMF has advised country authorities to roll back tax expenditures as a way to support fiscal consolidation efforts—urging them to evaluate tax expenditures according to clear criteria, and assessing their impact on public finances, economic efficiency, equity, and administrative and compliance costs. This paper analyses tax expenditures in Italy, considering the extent to which tax expenditures can be considered part of an optimal tax system and possible reforms.
Tax expenditures are revenue foregone due to special tax treatment, such as exemptions and lower rates. Although international comparisons are complicated by different methodologies and assessments as to what constitute a tax expenditure, tax expenditures in Italy are clearly elevated. Although some forms of tax support may be justified, such as the universal income tax credit in Italy that substitutes a minimum threshold, tax expenditures are often a poor way of pursuing policy objectives, create distortions, and escape public scrutiny. Instead, government support given through tax expenditures, in particular the VAT reduced rates and exemptions, should be reviewed regularly in the budget process alongside normal expenditure. An added benefit would be a simpler tax system that reduces administration costs and strengthens compliance.
Full working paper
© International Monetary Fund
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