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Personal Income Taxes in the Middle East and North Africa: Prospects and Possibilities, Mario Mansour, Eric M. Zolt

Contributor
Abstract
Personal income taxes (PITs) play little or no role in the Middle East and North Africa, often yielding less than 2 percent of GDP in revenue—with the exception of few North African countries. This paper examines how PITs have evolved in recent decades, and what they might look like in the next 20 years. Top marginal tax rates on labor and business income of individuals have declined substantially, a trend that mirrors reductions in advanced and developing economies. Taxation of passive capital income has changed very little, and the revenue intake from this source remains low throughout the region (less than 1 percent of GDP on average and concentrated in oil-importing non-fragile states). Social security contributions (SSC) have increased in importance in nearly all MENA countries, and some countries have introduced additional payroll taxes. The combination of reduced marginal tax rates, light taxation of income from capital and business activities, and increase of SSC, have resulted in income tax systems that create disincentives to work and incentives for informality, and contribute little to government revenue and income redistribution. Given differences in economic and political structures, demographics, and starting points, the path to PIT/SSC reforms will vary across the region. Countries with relatively mature PIT/SSC systems, where revenue performance has improved in the past two decades, will increasingly need to balance the revenue and equity objectives against effciency objectives (in particular labor market incentives and infromality). Countries with no PITs will have to weigh whether a consumption tax/SSC system that mimic a flat tax on labor income is sufficient to diversify revenue away from oil and whether to adopt PITs to address rising income and wealth inequality. Finally, fragile states, who face more political volatility and weaker fiscal institutions, will have to focus on simplicity of tax design and collection to be able to raise revenue from PITs
Language
eng
Literary Form
non fiction
Physical Description
1 online resource (39 pages)
Form Of Item
online

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