Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Institute for Futures Studies

No 2011:11: Den politiska moms-debatten i Sverige efter 1990 Ett bidrag till studiet av skattereformers politiska hållbarhet

Peter Johansson ()
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Peter Johansson: Institute for Futures Studies, Postal: Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This working paper presents a historical study on the Swedish parliamentary debate with the purpose to enhance our understanding of the increasing deviations from the VAT tax-norm during the investigated period of time. The central question concerns why the Swedish Parliament – in contrast to the intentions of the tax reform of 1990/91 - has chosen increased tax rate differentiation over a general reduction of the VAT tax rate. No clear differences are found with respect to the general ambition of political par-ties to differentiate the tax rate. It is however possible to detect differences with respect both to how political parties have prioritized between different areas of the economy and their arguments for differentiation. This supports a conclusion where politics matter in tax policy and where VAT policy is a contentious matter on how to redistribute re-sources within the economy. The reason why all parties have promoted differentiation is interpreted and discussed from an institutional point of view. In particular the interplay of the European VAT Directive and rules on how to account for tax expenditures in the budget process are discussed.

Keywords: VAT tax-norm; the tax reform of 1990/91; increased tax rate differentiation; the Swedish parliamentary debate

JEL-codes: E62

36 pages, December 20, 2011

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