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Sat Dec 14, 2013, 08:52 AM

Hmmm. Jesuits... ¿Has the IMF also gone neo-Franciscan? ... A few recent snippets:

... In his November investment commentary for bond giant Pimco, Mr. Gross asks the "Scrooge McDucks of the world" to accept higher personal income taxes and to stop expecting capital to be taxed at lower rates than labor. As for the IMF, its latest Fiscal Monitor report argues that taxing the wealthy offers "significant revenue potential at relatively low efficiency costs..."

/... http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304355104579232480552517224

Read the report here (.pdf) (This is from the 'executive' summary):

... Taxation is always a sensitive topic and is now more than ever at the center of policy debates around the world. The key challenges are: How can taxation best help bring down debt ratios in advanced economies and respond to mounting spending needs in developing countries? And how can equity concerns be balanced—especially in hard times—with the efficiency that is needed to secure long-term growth?

In practice, consolidation so far has been more reliant on revenue measures than was initially planned. But the options most often chosen have been guided by expediency rather than by a desire to build stronger and fairer tax systems, and they may be storing up problems for the longer term. Tax rates, for instance, have been raised when it would have been preferable to broaden the tax base and introduce new taxes to address environmental concerns or correct financial sector inefficiencies. With a large share of adjustment already behind in many countries but growth prospects still dim, policy design should now focus on addressing long-standing tax distortions and buoying potential growth.

Can countries tax more, better, more fairly? Results reported here show that the scope to raise more revenue is limited in many advanced economies and, where tax ratios are already high, the bulk of adjustment will have to fall on spending. Nonetheless, many (including some with the largest consolidation needs, like the United States and Japan) could still mobilize significant amounts while limiting distortions and adverse effects on growth. Broadening the base of the value-added tax ranks high in terms of economic efficiency (as new findings tend to confirm) and can in most cases easily be combined with adequate protection for the poor. In emerging market economies and low-income countries, where the potential for raising revenue is often substantial, improving compliance remains a central challenge. Recognition that the international tax framework is broken is long overdue. Though the amount is hard to quantify, significant revenue can also be gained from reforming it. This is particularly important for developing countries, given their greater reliance on corporate taxation, with revenue from this taxation often coming from a handful of multinationals.

Scope seems to exist in many advanced economies to raise more revenue from the top of the income distribution (and in some cases meet a nontrivial share of adjustment needs), if so desired. And there is a strong case in most countries, advanced or developing, for raising substantially more from property taxes (though this is best done when property markets are reasonably resilient). In principle, taxes on wealth also offer significant revenue potential at relatively low efficiency costs. Their past performance is far from encouraging, but this could change as increased public interest and stepped-up international cooperation build support and reduce evasion opportunities. Reforming international taxation will be harder, as it must go beyond the control of tax-minimizing tricks to address more fundamental aspects such as the allocation of tax bases across countries and finding better ways to realize mutual gains from closer cooperation in tax matters.

Political constraints can trump even the best-designed tax reform. History shows that meaningful, long-lasting tax reforms have most often been implemented in good times, when buoyant revenues can be used to compensate losers. But they can happen in lean times, too, if carefully attuned to a particular country’s institutional setting and supported by extensive political consensus building and a broad communication strategy. They are certainly increasingly needed in the current, taxing times...

And see much 'rightist' outrage:

... On page 49, the authors said, "The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a 'capital levy' — a one-time tax on private wealth — as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability."

Let’s be clear: That tax would apply to all private wealth on the planet. And it wouldn’t balance budgets but would only bring them down to a slightly more manageable level so that government borrowing and spending could continue without interruption. The levy would have to be implemented rapidly, before the wealthy could react and move their assets, or themselves, out of harm’s way: "The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible … distort behavior..."

/... http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/item/17107-international-monetary-fund-rolls-out-dangerous-wealth-tax-proposal


... In a wide-ranging speech on the outlook for the continent delivered to the European Economic and Social Committee, Ms Lagarde said a failure to revive investment and employment would not bode well for the future.

"There is a palpable sense of optimism in some quarters that the European crisis is over,'' she said.

"But can a crisis really be over when 12% of the labour force is without a job? When unemployment among the youth is in very high double digits, reaching more than 50% in Greece and Spain? And when there is no sign that it is becoming easier for people to pay down their debts?''

As European finance ministers held a simultaneous meeting to try and reach a way forward on the complex issues surrounding a pan-European banking union, the IMF chief said growth rates and output levels remained well below what they should be.

She said the only durable solution was in "jump-starting'' growth, setting out four priority areas including reviving credit, supporting demand, reducing debt and fostering growth friendly labour markets. "The goal of reform is to break down barriers to growth," she said...

/... http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/eu-must-reform-to-help-jumpstart-economic-revival-says-imf-29827827.html

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