Introduction to tax Law

Why are taxes necessary?

  1. for government – a source of revenue
  2. for business – the cost of (food, income are taxed) business/living
  3. for society – a price for civilization (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

How to measure the importance of taxes?

  1. tax to GDP ratio
  2. “High” and “low” tax countries
  3. Is there a “right” / “fair” level of tax?

Austria has Tax/GDP = 40%. The government wants to lower it, but it is not possible for now. The re are low and high tax countries: AT and Germany are high-tax, Hungary and Switzerland have low-tax.

There is a suitable level of tax: high tax countries provide better services: Free universities, free insurance, and high pensions.
In low-tax countries, services are mostly paid: In Switzerland, citizens should pay for insurance.

VAT is 20% for every consumption is significant.
There are income taxes of 40%-50% in AT. Taxes have a significant impact on the taxpayers’ budget.

Government should adequately justify the amount of tax paid.
Public deficit: Gov spends more money than it gains.

Taxes can help to attract businesses: Ireland was one of the poorest nations in The EU. At the end of 20 century, Ireland decreased the tax to 12.5% from 25%. The population increased by 25%, and before, it was the immigration country. The Republic of Ireland has become so successful that the UK fears that Northern Ireland will become a part of Ireland.

What is a tax?

  1. compulsory
  2. Imposed by legislation / levied by the government
  3. Under the rule of law
  4. For a public purpose
  5. Not paid in exchange for a specific service to the taxpayer

In the UK, there was a discussion that Social networks do not pay enough taxes. People say that they have to pay more. The law did not require that, but there was a public opinion. Some companies voluntarily pay more taxes to the budget to satisfy the public.

There should be a law where it stays that a taxpayer has to pay the taxes. It goes deep into history.

The rule of law means that the payment should be within the limits of the law. High-income people pay more taxes than others, and this is due to democracy: The majority wants wealthy people to pay more.

After the last financial crisis in 2008, many countries asked banks to pay additional taxes to a fund. The government spends money to rescue packages. So they were forced to pay more without any return, even though that banks pay the highest taxes.

Government imposes (облагаться) / levies (взыматься) taxes on different levels of States:

  1. federal
  2. subnational
  3. municipal

States are free to choose the amount of state income taxes.
Florida is an example of a no-state tax, but it still has the federal tax.

There are such municipal taxes (fees) in Vienna as property-related taxes.

What types of taxes may exist?

  1. Income tax – has become less critical over time.
  2. Corporate income tax – Corporate income tax is relatively low
  3. Value-added tax (VAT)/ goods and services taxes (GST)/ sales taxes. Most important, biggest tax in the EU
  4. Wealth taxes
  5. Inheritance and gift taxes
  6. Real estate transfer taxes
  7. Consumption taxes
  8. Energy taxes – e. g., help to decrease the carbon footprint.

Is there a perfect tax mix?

The US does not have the VAT, but it has the sales tax much lower than VAT in the EU. However, the corporate income is much higher than in the EU.

There are not enough consumption and income taxes in developing countries, so the corporate tax is high.

Inflation is essential now. In some decades, money will lose half of its cost due to inflation. That means that people have to spend their money, consume. The government will get its VAT.

What is a purpose of a tax?

  1. to generate revenue for public budgets
  2. to influence behavior
  3. To price-in external cost (Pigouvian Taxes) – A carbon tax.
  4. To purpose non-tax goals. e. g., many tax-exemptions, non-deductions.

Tobacco taxes are paid for centuries even though the harm from them was discovered only in the 20th century. The tax was not about behavior before, but the way how to get extra cash. If gov wants to get rid of tobacco behavior, then gov has to raise tobacco taxes in New Zealand significantly.

In AT salaries as 5k€ and more cannot be tax-deductable because the income was too high.

People in retail, supermarket workers, have a low payment. The government wants to increase the income of these workers by deducting some taxes.

Is a specific purpose/justification legally needed at all?
For the tax as such?/ For the design of a specific tax?

Germany has a problem with introducing carbon taxes. The constitution stays that people and companies pay taxes on consumption, but carbon emission is not consumption; it is production.
Austria can do that, but then everyone will have to pay taxes on the breath.

Who decides on a tax system?

Taxes are at the core of State sovereignty.
“The power to tax is the power to govern” – “Taxes are politics converted into money.”
Tax sovereignty may result in tax competition between states – pros and cons.

European union

  1. VAT – fully harmonized (but not on the tax rate: standard rate from 15% to 27%. E.g., Hungary has 27%)
  2. Income tax – not harmonized
  3. Corporate income tax – Common (Consolidated) Corporate Tax Base (CC(C)TB) proposed
  4. Anti Tax Avoidance Directive (ATAD)
  5. EU fundamental Freedoms – to ensure non-discrimination in the Single Market
  6. Prohibition of State Aid – to ensure fair competition

International Agreements (Tax treaties) – to avoid international double taxation.