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1 Using and Misusing Investment Incentives James Alm and David L. Sjoquist March 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Using and Misusing Investment Incentives James Alm and David L. Sjoquist March 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Using and Misusing Investment Incentives James Alm and David L. Sjoquist March 2008

2 2  Investment incentives are widely used in countries around the world.  What should Puerto Rico policy be toward their use?

3 3 Purpose of Presentation  To examine and evaluate the practice of investment incentives – world-wide and in Puerto Rico  To suggest some general policies that Puerto Rico should consider

4 4  Why Give Investment Incentives?  Main Types of Investment Incentives  Some Worldwide Trends in Taxing Companies  Other Factors in Attracting Investment: The Investment Climate in Puerto Rico  Evaluating the Benefits and Costs of Incentives  “Best Practices”

5 5 Why Give Investment Incentives? Investment incentives are part of a broader strategy that encourages overall economic development. They are given:  Because there are thought to be benefits (as well as costs) from giving them – see the discussion below.  Because a country believes that it must offer incentives to compete with rival countries for foreign investment.  Because a country is pressured by large domestic (and foreign) firms to offer incentives.

6 6 Main Types of Investment Incentives  Investment tax credits and deductions  Accelerated depreciation allowances  Tax holidays  Investment grants  Miscellaneous incentives o Reduced corporate tax rates o Reduced tax rates on some activities o Exempt purchases

7 7 Some Worldwide Trends in Taxing Companies  Statutory corporate tax rates have fallen significantly since 1982 for most of the 19 (OECD) countries examined, and continue to decline today. In 1982, 15 of the 19 countries had statutory tax rates above 40 percent; by 2004, no country had a tax rate above 40 percent. Overall, the (unweighted) mean statutory tax rate fell from 48 percent to 32 percent over this period.  The tax bases of most countries were broadened over much of this period, at least as measured by the (reduced) generosity of depreciation allowances.  The effective tax rate on corporate income, measured by the “marginal effective tax rate” and the “average effective tax rates”, tended to fall over time. These measures of effective tax rates are discussed in more detail later.

8 8 Other Factors in Attracting Investment: The Investment Climate in Puerto Rico

9 9 Doing Business 2008 The World Bank, working with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, has conducted a survey on the ease or difficulty of doing business in 178 countries. The survey uses a “case study company” approach, in which a standardized, common company is constructed, and then the specific institutional features of each country are applied to this identical company along various dimensions of doing business.

10 10 Puerto Rico’s Rankings in Doing Business 2008 (out of 178 countries)  Starting a business (7 th)  Dealing with licenses (135 th )  Employing workers (32 nd )  Registering property (117 th )  Getting credit (26 th )  Protecting investors (12 th )  Trading across borders (95 th )  Enforcing contracts (88 th )  Closing a business (28 st )  Paying taxes (39 th )

11 11 Paying taxes Puerto Rico - 39 th out of 178 countries  Payments (number per year): 16 (39 th ) o Corporate income tax payments (number): 5 o Labor tax payments (number): 6 o Other taxes payments (number): 5  Time (hours per year): 140 (39 th ) o Corporate income tax time (hours): 80 o Labor tax time (hours): 60 o Consumption tax time (hours): 0  Total tax rate (percent of profit): 44.3 (92 nd ) o Corporate income tax rate (percent): 12.4 o Labor tax rate (percent): 12.6 o Other taxes rate (percent): 19.3

12 12 Overall Ranking of Puerto Rico in “Ease of Doing Business”: 28 th out of 178 countries

13 13 World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report The World Economic Forum provides rankings of 131 countries in 12 “pillars” of competitiveness, based on publicly available information and on the Executive Opinion Survey of several thousand business leaders across the countries. The result is the “Global Competitiveness Index” (GCI).

14 14 Puerto Rico’s Rankings in Global Competitiveness Index (out of 131 countries) Puerto Rico Ranking Subindex A: Basic Requirements45 th  1 st Pillar: Institutions40 th  2 nd Pillar: Infrastructure40 th  3 rd Pillar: Macroeconomic Stability69 th  4 th Pillar: Health and Primary Education93 rd Subindex B: Efficiency Enhancers32 nd  5 th Pillar: Higher Education and Training48 th  6 th Pillar: Goods Market Efficiency29 th  7 th Pillar: Labor Market Efficiency27 th  8 th Pillar: Financial Market Sophistication30 th  9 th Pillar: Technological Readiness26 th  10 th Pillar: Market Size66 th Subindex C: Innovation and Sophistication Factors27 th  11 th Pillar: Business Sophistication25 th  12 th Pillar: Innovation29 th Global Competiveness Index, th

15 15 Evaluating the Benefits and Costs of Investment Incentives Benefits to Country o Increases in investment o Industrialization o Job creation o “Infant industry” o Increases in tax revenues o Technology transfer o Correction of “distortion”

16 16 Costs to Country o Loss of tax revenues o Distortions in investment and other types of behavior o Discrimination against firms that lack the resources/influence to apply for incentives o Complexity o Political discord o Corruption o Unfairness

17 17 On balance, the evidence is that the benefits seldom exceed the costs. And there is also little convincing evidence that incentives actually change behavior: they simply subsidize behavior that would occur even without the incentives, or they lead to purely accounting changes (e.g., transfer pricing) that reduce taxes without generating any real, new economic activity.

18 18 “Best Practices” Basic tradeoff: Reduce the statutory tax rate for all investments versus Extend tax incentives to targeted and selected investments

19 19 “Best Practices”  Avoid the use of tax incentives, unless…  And resist the temptation to industrialize through the tax system.  Instead, reduce the overall corporate tax rate, keeping tax rates in line with those of neighboring countries and with those of capital-exporting countries.

20 20 But, if incentives are to be used, then:  Quantify their benefits and costs.  Simplify the tax incentives system.  “Rationalize” tax incentives.  Define clearly the types of activities that will receive incentives and then grant these incentives automatically.  Permit unrestricted entry of foreign investment.  Do not favor foreign over domestic investors.  Permit unrestricted transfers of capital income abroad.


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