The Council on Economic Policies (CEP) and IDOS have launched the Global Tax Expenditures Transparency Index (GTETI) on 09 and 10 October 2023 in Zurich in front of more than a hundred experts from academia, government, civil society and regional and international organisations.
Tax expenditures comprise all kinds of tax incentives, exemptions, deferrals, tax credits, etc. that governments use to pursue different policy goals, such as for instance attracting investment or fighting poverty. They are certainly not a minor issue: in some cases, governments forgo revenues of more than 10 % of GDP due to those mechanisms. For a long time, tax expenditures have been the hidden side of the fiscal policy iceberg. This has changed with the Global Tax Expenditures Database (GTED), launched by CEP and IDOS in 2021, which gathers data on the use of tax expenditures in more than 100 countries worldwide.
With the GTETI, the two organisations have taken a next step in their joint engagement and developed a tool for a fine-grained analysis of tax expenditure reporting. The index assesses countries on five dimensions of reporting: (1) public availability, (2) institutional framework, (3) methodology and scope, (4) descriptive tax expenditure data, and (5) tax expenditure assessment. It provides a framework to rank countries according to the regularity, quality and scope of their tax expenditure reports, and aims at increasing transparency and accountability in the tax expenditures field.
Among the 104 assessed countries, South Korea, Canada and the Netherlands rank top according to the overall GTETI score. Several low and lower-middle income countries such as Benin, Niger, Tunisia and Cameroon figure among the top 25 countries as well. In contrast, some high-income countries such as Czechia, Japan, Denmark or Switzerland belong to the 25 countries that obtain the lowest scores on the index.
In her opening remarks, IDOS director Prof. Anna-Katharina Hornidge emphasised the need to “encourage decisions-makers to invest in thorough documentation of the tax expenditures they are implementing” and underscored that the GTED as well as the GTETI are “an immense contribution to ongoing debates on deepening international tax cooperation”.
The GTETI is now accessible on the Tax Expenditures Lab website at www.taxexpenditures.org. The Tax Expenditures Lab is a hub for expertise, exchange and peer learning on the topic of tax expenditures.