Study and Reports on the VAT Gap in the EU-28 Member States: 2019 Final Report
This Report has been prepared for the European Commission, DG TAXUD under contract TAXUD/2017/DE/329, “Study and Reports on the VAT Gap in the EU-28 Member States” and serves as a follow-up to the six reports published between 2013 and 2018.
This Study contains new estimates of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Gap for 2017, as well as updated estimates for 2013-2016. As a novelty in this series of reports, so called “fast VAT Gap estimates” are also presented the year immediately preceding the analysis, namely for 2018. In addition, the study reports the results of the econometric analysis of VAT Gap determinants initiated and initially reported in the 2018 Report (Poniatowski et al., 2018). It also scrutinises the Policy Gap in 2017 as well as the contribution that reduced rates and exemptions made to the theoretical VAT revenue losses.
In 2017, growth in the European Union (EU) continued to accelerate with a combined real GDP growth of 2.5 percent, providing a sound environment for an increase in VAT collections. As a result, VAT revenue increased in all Member States (MS). An increase in the base was the main, but not the only, source for growth. Increase in compliance contributed to an approximate 1.1% increase in VAT revenue. In nominal terms, in 2017, the VAT Gap in EU-28 MS fell to EUR 137.5 billion, down from EUR 145.4 billion. In relative terms, the VAT Gap share of the VAT total tax liability (VTTL) dropped to 11.2 percent in 2017 and is the lowest value in the analysed period of 2013-2017. Fast estimates for 2018 indicate that the downward trend will continue and that VAT Gap will likely fall below EUR 130 billion in 2018.
Of the EU-28, the VAT Gap as percentage of the VTTL decreased in 25 countries and increased in three. The biggest declines in the VAT Gap occurred in Malta, Poland, and Cyprus. The smallest Gaps were observed in Cyprus (0.6 percent), Luxembourg (0.7 percent), and Sweden (1.5 percent). The largest Gaps were registered in Romania (35.5 percent), Greece (33.6 percent), and Lithuania (25.3 percent). Overall, half of EU-28 MS recorded a Gap above 10.1 percent (see Figure 2.2 and Table 2.1).
The Policy Gaps and its components remained stable. The average Policy Gap level was 44.5 percent, out of which 9.6 percentage points are due to the application of various reduced and super-reduced rates instead of standard rates (the Rate Gap). The countries with the most flat levels of rates in the EU, according to the Rate Gap, are Denmark (0.8 percent) and Estonia (3 percent). On the other side of spectrum are Cyprus (29.6 percent), Malta (16.5 percent), and Poland (14.6 percent). The Exemption Gap, or the average share of Ideal Revenue lost due to various exemptions, is, on average, 35 percent in the EU, whereas the Actionable Policy Gap – a combination of the Rate Gap and the Actionable Exemption Gap – is, on average, 13 percent of the Notional Ideal Revenue.
The econometric analysis repeated after the 2017 Study confirmed the earlier results. We observe that the dispersion of tax rates and unemployment rate have a positive impact on the VAT Gap. Regarding the variables in hands of the administration, on the extended times series compared to the previous year, our results suggest that the nature of the expenditure of the administration, in particular IT expenditure, is more important that the amount of the overall resources.