The Distributional Effects of Consumption Taxes in OECD Countries

image of The Distributional Effects of Consumption Taxes in OECD Countries

The report examines the distributional effects of value-added tax (VAT) and excise tax systems in 20 OECD countries, and investigates the effectiveness of reduced VAT rates as a redistributional tool.


Executive summary

The OECD’s 2008 Taxation and Economic Growth study highlighted the potential growth benefits of shifting the tax mix away from taxes on labour and corporate income towards consumption taxes. In particular, there is a strong case for countries to broaden their value-added tax (VAT) bases, not just to raise revenue, but to reduce the substantial compliance costs and distortions to consumption decisions that arise from multi-rate VAT systems. While a number of countries have recently increased their standard VAT rates, governments have been far more reluctant to embrace VAT base broadening measures because of a range of concerns. Foremost of these is the widely held view that the poor are hit hardest by consumption taxes, and particularly by increases in reduced VAT rates.


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