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Tax Expenditures in OECD Countries

image of Tax Expenditures in OECD Countries
In all OECD countries, governments collect revenues through taxes and redistribute this public money, often by obligatory spending on social programmes such as education or health care. Their tax systems usually include “tax expenditures” – provisions that allow certain groups of people, such as small businessmen, retired people or working mothers, or those who have undertaken certain activities, such as charitable donations, to pay less in taxes.

The use of tax expenditures by governments is pervasive and growing. At a time when many government budgets are threatened by population ageing and adverse cyclical developments, there is a pressing need to avoid inefficient government programmes, some of which may utilise tax expenditures.

This book sheds light on the use of tax expenditures, mainly through a study of ten OECD countries: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. This book will help government officials and the public better understand some of the technical and policy issues behind the use of tax expenditures. It highlights key trends and successful practices, and addresses a broad range of government finance issues, including tax policy making, tax and budget efficiency, fiscal responsibility and rule making.

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Country profiles: Methods, institutions and data

This chapter presents summary comparisons of ten countries’ (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden the United Kingdom and the United States) description of their own concepts and methods in defining and measuring tax expenditures, in order to provide a greater understanding of how different countries define, measure, review, and control tax expenditures It goes on to describe each country’s institutions and practices that are relevant to the making of tax policy in the budgetary context. For most countries, it gives a count and a tabulation of measured tax expenditures, as shares of GDP and relative to aggregate revenues. It disaggregates tax expenditures under income taxes into a standardised set of budget purposes or functions. It attempts to compensate for differences across countries in categorisations of provisions as “structural” rather than as tax expenditures.

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