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The C-inefficiency of the EU-VAT and what can be done about it

Sijbren Cnossen ()
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Sijbren Cnossen: CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis

International Tax and Public Finance, 2022, vol. 29, issue 1, No 9, 215-236

Abstract: Abstract It is widely agreed that in countries without major constraints on administrative capacity, a value-added tax (VAT) should tax all goods and services at a uniform rate. In these countries, VAT’s C-efficiency, that is, actual revenue over potential revenue, should be one if compliance is perfect. Under this approach, VAT’s C-inefficiency—the aggregate of the policy gap (exemptions, reduced rates, thresholds) and the compliance gap (revenue shortfalls due to laps in compliance and implementation)—is treated as a residual. This contribution shows that calculating VAT’s C-inefficiency independently of its C-efficiency produces a more telling benchmark, particularly of the policy gap. This is illustrated by an analysis of the revenues of the Dutch VAT, which, given the common VAT directive, should be representative of the VATs in other European Union Member States. The large policy gap, hovering around 0.50, forms the background for exploring three options to improve VAT’s performance: reforming the common directive, ceding VAT design to Member States, and introducing a common modern VAT which can be piggybacked by Member States.

Keywords: VAT; European Union; Exemptions; Tax reform; C-efficiency; C-inefficiency; H25; H70 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s10797-021-09683-0

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