While fiscal consolidation was the key driver of tax reforms in the years following the global economic crisis, the main emphasis of recent tax reforms has shifted back to tax measures aimed at boosting economic growth, according to a new OECD report.
Tax Policy Reforms in the OECD provides an overview of the tax reforms that were implemented, legislated or announced across the OECD in 2015. The report – the first edition of a new annual monitoring exercise – identifies common tax policy trends across the OECD.
Tax reforms launched in 2015 were largely focused on boosting growth and were characterised by reductions in labour and corporate income taxes. This represents a significant shift from the post-crisis period, where a stronger focus on fiscal consolidation led governments to implement increases in labour taxes and value-added tax (VAT) rates.
The report also shows a move in some countries towards higher taxes on personal capital income, but only relatively limited moves toward reform of environmental and property taxes. These are all areas where the OECD has previously identified scope for governments to raise additional revenues while supporting inclusive economic growth.
Major international developments in the area of taxation in 2015 are shown to have influenced tax policy reforms across the OECD. Many of the reported corporate income tax (CIT) and VAT reforms reflected the impact of the adoption of the recommendations agreed upon as part of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project and the endorsement of the OECD International VAT/GST Guidelines.
Austria, Belgium, Greece, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain were the countries that implemented, legislated or announced the most comprehensive tax reforms in 2015, according to the report.
“Tax policies have direct implications on economic growth as well as on how the benefits of growth are shared across the population,” said Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. “Monitoring tax policy reforms over time and understanding the context in which they were undertaken is crucial to informing tax policy discussions and supporting countries in the assessment and design of tax reforms.”
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