I am going to turn now from the VAT
to other alternatives for reform.
In no case, however, did we find a statistically significant positive relationship between consumption taxes and saving rates, or between VAT and retail sales taxes and saving rates.
If consumption taxes, or VAT and retail sales taxes, really were effective in promoting saving, some relationship between the relative use of such taxes and the rate of saving should be discernible among these twenty-three OECD countries.
As a further test of the impact of consumption and value added taxes on saving, we performed a number of tests to determine whether changes in the relative use of consumption taxes, of VAT and retail sales taxes, and of income taxes, in the OECD countries could be associated with changes in their rates of saving.
In no case could we find any regressions in which there was a significant positive statistical correlation between changes in the rate of national or private saving and changes in the relative use of consumption taxes or of VAT and retail sales taxes.
These are, of course, large assumptions that need to be put in context by examining the actual tax base of a VAT, by considering the VAT as an additional tax and as a substitute tax, and by briefly reviewing the nature of the distinction under the GATT between a direct tax and an indirect tax.
Both the classic consumer VAT and the business VAT are imposed on business gross receipts from sales minus the cost of capital equipment, inventories, and services purchased from other businesses.
The consumer VAT is frequently described as a multi-stage sales tax.
The business VAT does not include the invoicing system.
For example, if policymakers decided to alleviate the regressivity of a VAT by using multiple tax rates, the subtraction method for calculating the tax would not work properly.
On September 7, 1989, the Conference Board (a New York-based business research organization) issued a report stating that a VAT could add tremendous amounts of revenue to the budget, but could also have serious drawbacks.
The Conference Board noted that, although the VAT is regarded as a tremendous revenue raiser, controversy still exists regarding both the cost and administrative burden of implementing the new tax.