The estimate of the value added tax revenue loss

This paper presents the estimate of the total tax loss and tax gap for value added tax. Although this tax represents one of the most significant sources of revenue for the general government, the increase in VAT revenue in recent years has not been commensurate to the growth of the macroeconomic base. In the absence of a comprehensive analysis in this area, the mismatch has been attributed to growing tax evasion and avoidance. For the purpose of this analysis, the tax gap is estimated using two methods: calculation based on the output tables and calculation based on nominal GDP net of the items not subject to VAT. The results of our quantification show that the total VAT loss in 2010 reached €2.3 billion, which represents 3.5% of GDP. From the total VAT loss, the tax administration is able to capture and identify less than 30%. The remaining 70% represents the tax gap, i.e., the tax liability which has not yet been identified. Almost half of the tax loss (1.6% of GDP) is attributable to lower effectiveness of tax collection compared to the EU average. In other words, if the effectiveness of tax collection were on par with the EU average, the basic VAT rate could be 4.7 p.p. lower (14.3% in 2009) to generate the current level of VAT revenue or, if maintained, it would increase revenue by 1.6% of GDP (€1.1 billion).