Monday, 9 January 2012

A desvalorização fiscal mudou de poiso

Dois membros deste blogue, eu e o Francesco Franco, devotámos muita energia nos últimos 21 meses a defender que Portugal deveria ter baixado a TSU e subir o IVA, uma desvalorização fiscal com efeito neutro nas finanças públicas e com potencial para estimular a nossa economia no curto prazo e combater a recessão. Para os argumentos iniciais, podem ver a minha página ou ver as várias entradas neste blogue.

Não foi essa a opção deste governo, em parte por algumas boas razões. Mas uma crítica que me fez confusão foi que esta era uma ideia esotérica, coisa de académicos, e que Portugal não se devia por com experiências. Até alguns antigos ministros das finanças, comentadores sérios e sisudos, bradaram contra o arrojo da nossa proposta.

Estou curioso em ver a reacção destas pessoas ao anúncio que a França, que começa agora a entrar numa recessão bem mais pequena que a nossa, vai.... fazer uma desvalorização fiscal exactamente nos moldes defendidos por mim e pelo Francesco. Devem estar loucos, os franceses.


  1. Posso estar enganado mas uma das razões pela não utilização de um IVA social foi que a contracção de procura que iria ser gerada pelo aumento do IVA necessário não era benefica para o país.

    Isto pois um aumento do IVA já estava a ser planeado e o estado já necessitava de bastante dinheiro na altura.

    Apesar de apoiar muitissimo o IVA social o facto de, pelo menos segundo um relatório do eurostat, o volume de trocas de retalho desceu 9.2% em PT neste ano faz com que o aumento do IVA social pudesse ter um efeito ainda pior para a economia.

  2. I am sorry for changing the issue but I am quite curious about Ricardo's opinion about the US anti-piracy law - SOPA. What is the right thing to do? Intellectual property rights or decreased barriers to technological innovation and relevant societal spillovers? -

  3. Regarding the fiscal devaluation, and not to discuss Ricardo Reis and Francesco Franco analysis, which I personally find sound and enough grounded, I never could really understand why the choice for VAT rate increment, instead of VAT tax base widening?
    According to VAT law implementation, it looks reasonable to subject a wide range of transactions to VAT, even if under reduced rates, instead of the total exemption, or submission to other rare and somehow alien taxes.
    For alien taxes, I’m referring to some pearls like “Seal tax” or “Derrama," which is a truly anathema, once it is a tax over a tax.
    On another hand there is a vast array of transactions exempted of VAT, where its use would become a huge step towards fiscal equity, that concerns so much of our parliament members, but no one dare to take effective actions to achieve that mythical goal.
    I’m specifically referring to bank services, construction companies and real estate transactions among others that I can’t recall for now.
    Tax rates increase, over a contraction conjuncture, always redound in taxes collection decrease, besides the inflation induction and consumption diminishing. This in turn deepens the contraction trends, generating lesser sales, fewer jobs, less investment. Thus, we find ourselves in deeper recession, asking again, what happened?

  4. @fernando

    you mean real estate transactions are not subject to VAT?

  5. Yes! Real estate transactions are not subject to VAT.

  6. @fernando

    now the next question I have is: "is there any non tradable industry" that is not favored relative to tradable industries by lower VAT and/or lower TSU?

  7. Sorry, I'm missing the point!
    I am not aware of any industry with lower TSU?

  8. I just wanted to add that Germany (of all countries) enacted a kind of fiscal devaluation a few years ago, as far as I am informed (don't pin me down on the details, though). This was part of the Schroeder reform package and one of the reasons why the German economy gained so much in competitiveness over the last 10 years.

  9. @Steffen, indeed Germany did know you are allowed to do it and it make sense if you wish to increase external competitiveness. The obvious implication is that in the future such economic policies will have to be coordinated as I had tried to point out.

    @fernando, well I remember Table 3

    1. Thanks to bring that table back to me. I was suspicious about public employees being subject to lower TSU, both from payroll entity and from the worker itself, but I (wrongly) thought that the need to increase tax collection in recent years, should already level those exceptions.

      I am a strong critic of astonishing TSU rates that companies in general face. I still, cannot understand how any (in)sane public office holder believes that a normal business can produce such margin enough to pay for: raw materials, energy, worker wages, taxes and reward the shareholders?
      Do they have any idea of the business gross margins necessary to face all that current expenses?
      And they even dare to challenge managers to aim for external markets? Based on which competitive advantages? Based on the systemic endless lower wages?
      To whom or what are we (the business managers) not going to pay?
      Do they think that we can meet with the bank manager and tenderly tell him to hold another overdue payment from the PME-Investe loan, like state companies do?

      Those are my main arguments to support and endorse the urgent need for a fiscal devaluation, including the TSU lowering for levels around 10% or 12% rates for both parties, like IMF suggested. Such shock could effectively boost business profitability, and therefore, create the necessary context for investment growth, in order to strengthen some competitive advantages capable of boosting the exports.
      Furthermore, one should not forget about the contextual costs! But that is another subject for another discussion.

      Nevertheless, I still think that widening the VAT base should bring better results, both for tax revenue increase and fiscal equity, to counterbalance the short term TSU revenue loss. As I believe they would rapidly recover, trough employment growth, and social security savings for unemployment decrease.