Friday, August 1, 2014
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Kluge Steuern

ATHEN/BERLIN – Die Regierungen in der Europäischen Union und auf aller Welt sind in eine ausweglos anmutende Situation geraten: Die Staatsverschuldung hängt wie ein Mühlstein an ihrem Hals und die Defizite müssen durch Ausgabenkürzungen und Steuererhöhungen abgebaut werden. Diese Maßnahmen wirken sich jedoch negativ auf die Verbraucherausgaben aus, die notwendig sind, um die Wirtschaftstätigkeit und das Wachstum anzukurbeln. Die Debatte verlagert sich gegenwärtig von der Sparpolitik auf Maßnahmen zur Wachstumsförderung und eine kluge Besteuerung wird unumgänglich sein, um das richtige Gleichgewicht zu finden.

Wenn Regierungen über die schwierige Aufgabe der Steuererhöhung nachdenken, kommen ihnen gewöhnlich die Einkommensteuer, Unternehmenssteuern und die Umsatzsteuer in den Sinn. Es gibt jedoch andere Steuern mit deutlich weniger negativen Auswirkungen auf die Wirtschaft, mit denen sich erhebliche Einnahmen erzielen lassen. Dabei handelt es sich um die Steuern, die Regierungen jetzt schon auf Elektrizität und fossile Energieträger erheben.

Diese Steuern spielen eine entscheidende Rolle bei der Senkung der CO2-Emissionen, die für den Klimawandel verantwortlich sind. Aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse zeigen jedoch, dass sie außerdem eine nützliche Rolle bei der Erhöhung der Staatseinnahmen spielen können, ohne dass das Wirtschaftswachstum erheblich darunter leidet.

Euro für Euro, Dollar für Dollar, Yen für Yen: Energie- und CO2-Steuern wirken sich weniger negativ auf die Wirtschaft, den Konsum und die Beschäftigung aus als Einkommen- und Umsatzsteuer. So kann etwa eine Erhöhung der direkten Steuern, wie zum Beispiel der Einkommensteuer, den Konsum doppelt so stark beeinträchtigen wie Energie- und CO2-Steuern, durch die derselbe Steuerbetrag eingenommen wird.

Für die Wiederbelebung der Konjunktur ist es unabdingbar, den Konsum auf möglichst hohem Niveau zu halten und es ist somit ebenso wichtig, dass Verbraucher Geld zum Ausgeben zur Verfügung haben. Energie- und CO2-Steuern können Einnahmen erzielen und die Wirtschaft dabei in einer besseren Verfassung für eine nachhaltige Erholung belassen. Herkömmliche Steuern erzielen Einnahmen, stellen aber ein wesentlich höheres Risiko für eine Wachstumsdämpfung dar.

Das ist nicht der einzige Grund, warum es sinnvoll ist, sich eingehender mit Energie- und CO2-Steuern zu befassen. Vor allem in Europa ist der derzeitige Rahmen für die Energiebesteuerung nicht nachhaltig. Die Steuersätze für unterschiedliche Kraftstoffe variieren in der EU um mehr als 50%, was erhebliche Verzerrungen im Binnenmarkt zur Folge hat. Die Schaffung gleicher Wettbewerbsbedingungen bei der Energiebesteuerung in der EU würde die wirtschaftlichen Anreize harmonisieren, den Tanktourismus von Autofahrern abschaffen, die billigere Kraftstoffe im Nachbarland tanken und das Geschäftsklima in allen europäischen Volkswirtschaften verbessern.

Steigende Energierechnungen, die durch die Preise für fossile Energieträger in die Höhe getrieben werden, sind in vielen europäischen Ländern und anderswo ein großes Politikum, so auch in den Vereinigten Staaten, wo sich die Energiepreise für Verbraucher im Vorfeld der diesjährigen Präsidentschaftswahlen zum wichtigen Thema entwickelt haben. Doch im Verhältnis zu anderen Formen der Besteuerung kommt die Energiebesteuerung tendenziell den Verbrauchern insgesamt zugute. Die Vorteile, die sich ergeben, wenn die negativen Folgen herkömmlicher Steuern verhindert werden, machen sich in allen Wirtschaftszweigen bemerkbar, vor allem weil den am wenigsten Bemittelten ein höheres verfügbares Haushaltseinkommen bleibt.

Die meisten Energie- und CO2-Steuern werden von nationalen Regierungen erhoben. In Europa gibt es jedoch noch eine weitere Möglichkeit höhere Steuereinnahmen zu erzielen: das Emissionshandelssystem der Europäischen Union (ETS). Bezogen auf die Auswirkungen auf das BIP und die Beschäftigung wären die Kosten für eine Erhöhung der Einnahmen aus dieser Quelle um bis zu ein Drittel geringer als für die Erzielung der gleichen Summe über Einkommen- oder Umsatzsteuern.

In Anbetracht der europäischen Haushaltsdefizite und den wirtschaftlichen Folgen, die ihre Verringerung mit sich bringt, ist der potenzielle Gewinn gewaltig. Doch zunächst müssen die Fragen geklärt werden, die den CO2-Preis drücken. Die Anzahl der Emissionszertifikate, die sich im ETS im Umlauf befinden, ist viel zu hoch und es wird entscheidend sein, ihre Verfügbarkeit zu verringern.

Die Finanzminister aller Länder müssen fantasievoller über ihre steuerlichen Alternativen nachdenken. Energie- und CO2-Steuern können in wirtschaftlicher Hinsicht weniger schmerzhaft und dabei einträglicher sein als herkömmliche Steuern. Europa braucht eine Konsolidierung der öffentlichen Finanzen, eine Reduzierung der CO2-Emissionen und eine Strategie für Wirtschaftswachstum. Wir sollten stärker auf Energiesteuern und ein effektives Emissionshandelssystem setzen, um in allen drei Bereichen Erfolge zu erzielen.

Aus dem Englischen von Sandra Pontow.

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  1. CommentedFlip Bibi

    Gary M:
    Greece has a continuously demoralized civilian population, because their government constantly fails them. Greek society has no faith in their governmental representation, as clearly seen in the last elections. The community is having a hard time just to make it through the day, and they will not give up the little money they have, especially, to a failing and disappointing government. The idea that the government should be completely transparent to its population is wonderful, that a government shows exactly what it will need in order to maintain itself afloat would be wonderful; but it will not work. A system as such will make the government be seen as asking for donations rather than be responsible and enforce proper laws such as taxation. And when it comes to donations we all know how disappointing results are. Placing yourself in the shoes of the average Greek citizen, would you give some of your money to a failing system? My bet is no; I think that you’d rather take that little bit and open an account in a German/Swiss bank. I am surprised that liquid assets have not flooded out of Greek banks yet, but it is trickling out.
    As far as borrowing money, from citizens, at a specific interest rate; yeah, sounds good, but only when you know that your government will hold its end of the deal. Again, the government is not supported by the population. Only after it gets out of this current spiraling disaster, Greece should create a new, fair and enforceable taxation system which does not kill public/privet/foreign incentives to stimulate growth. The population is paying a hefty price, and it is not enough. Unfortunately, Greece has no option but to continue with the austerity programs forced on it by others, and these measures caused nothing but more head-aches. Clearly, people are angry because of the situation their country is in but they have to realize that they are also part of the problem. With new elections looming around the corner, most of Europe is holding its breath. Will Greece vote to remain in the EU, or will they vote anti-austerity? Unfortunately people can’t have it both ways and either way Greece loses. For sure austerity programs help, but that is not the only solution, more is needed in order to get Greece out of the hole.
    Greece is in turmoil; tourism is down, public/privet capital decreasing, foreign investments decreasing, unstable political parties/system and laws that were not properly enforced. Greece has much to think about its future, and so little time.

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Flip,

      It is not government by donations.

      The post below advances the abolition of all Taxation. A nation will never repay the monies borrowed in the financial markets. And how does one treat his perpetual banker, knowing the funds can be cut off at any moment?

      That is the reason government will become far more benign and productive than they are at present.

      Can a nation borrow perpetually? Yes, under certain conditions.

      There are few entities on this earth that do not count liabilities among their assets. Most of us carry debts and many other liabilities. That is not the worrying part. The part for concern is the value of our assets. Do one possess assets exceeding those aggregate liabilities. Most will say yes. Some no.

      Does a government possess financial and material resources? Certainly. With Taxation, the combined financial and material resources of every entity within the nation. Without Taxation and with borrowing, the same. This is what backs the nation's financial debts.

      Now if an entity can borrow and invest, creating assets that exceed liabilities, should it do so? The answer is obvious, and just as obvious if it cannot.

      So if a nation can borrow from itself, its citizens, and create assets that exceed the acquired liabilities, should it do so? Yes.

      Banks do it all the time. They borrow from one and invest or loan money to another, living on the margins. They never pay off their lenders. They just borrow more money for supplying more loans, creating assets that exceed liabilities.

      And it will be the same for a nation. Borrow from one and invest in some project, creating assets that exceed liabilities and enriching the nation and its people.

      Access to clean water could be accounted a worthy project with good returns. Dirty or disease laden water can cause a community grievous harm. The local hospital may be overrun with patients suffering all sorts of water borne maladies. The medical costs, lost work days, etc could be erased with a modest investment in purifying the water.

      Simple cost and benefit analysis. If the cost to the community of water borne diseases are $5 million, and construction costs of a water filtration plant $1 million with $1 million in annual expenditures, is this not a valued return to the community? Is it inflationary?

      No because the community now has $3 million per year to go and spend on other items, perhaps better healthcare, better education, a larger home.

      An idle person will cost the community or nation in welfare costs. An annuity of $10,000 would require an initial investment of $200,000 with an interest rate of 5%. If a person collects $10,000 per year, the community or nation would be better off lending funds of say $50,000 for training or education up to amend the burden.

      The piece above merely shows that the cost of borrowing for a nation is in effect nil. The debt obligations issued by a nation create a liability that is equally matched with a created asset, held by a resident US lender.

      Its like a bank adding to both sides of its balance sheet. The addition of an asset offsets or nullifies the addition of equal extent of a liability. Or in other words, are you better off if you borrow $1 from your mother? You owe what you now possess, so your circumstances are unchanged.

      The question for the Government now centers on what we get for our money expended in public projects? With Taxation, there is no justification because government can take your money and do pretty much as it pleases. With borrowing, the government will have to approach the citizen and provide a proper analysis.

      The amounts borrowed will be so large, that no one person or entity could ever exert noticeable control over a nation. It will be a far different story from the present one.

      When the state has to borrow, the kind of corruption you lament will quickly come to an end.

      There is no constraint upon earnings or investment or any worthy activity. No penalty or punishment for productive enterprise. There will also be a great contraction in government expenditures as cost and benefit analysis springs into action. Both factors will create a far more productive and wealthy nation.

      I hope that answers your questions.


      GM

      CommentedGary Marshall

      Hello Flip,

      It is not government by donations.

      The post below advances the abolition of all Taxation. A nation will never repay the monies borrowed in the financial markets. And how does one treat his perpetual banker, knowing the funds can be cut off at any moment?

      That is the reason government will become far more benign and productive than they are at present.

      Can a nation borrow perpetually? Yes, under certain conditions.

      There are few entities on this earth that do not count liabilities among their assets. Most of us carry debts and many other liabilities. That is not the worrying part. The part for concern is the value of our assets. Do one possess assets exceeding those aggregate liabilities. Most will say yes. Some no.

      Does a government possess financial and material resources? Certainly. With Taxation, the combined financial and material resources of every entity within the nation. Without Taxation and with borrowing, the same. This is what backs the nation's financial debts.

      Now if an entity can borrow and invest, creating assets that exceed liabilities, should it do so? The answer is obvious, and just as obvious if it cannot.

      So if a nation can borrow from itself, its citizens, and create assets that exceed the acquired liabilities, should it do so? Yes.

      Banks do it all the time. They borrow from one and invest or loan money to another, living on the margins. They never pay off their lenders. They just borrow more money for supplying more loans, creating assets that exceed liabilities.

      And it will be the same for a nation. Borrow from one and invest in some project, creating assets that exceed liabilities and enriching the nation and its people.

      Access to clean water could be accounted a worthy project with good returns. Dirty or disease laden water can cause a community grievous harm. The local hospital may be overrun with patients suffering all sorts of water borne maladies. The medical costs, lost work days, etc could be erased with a modest investment in purifying the water.

      Simple cost and benefit analysis. If the cost to the community of water borne diseases are $5 million, and construction costs of a water filtration plant $1 million with $1 million in annual expenditures, is this not a valued return to the community? Is it inflationary?

      No because the community now has $3 million per year to go and spend on other items, perhaps better healthcare, better education, a larger home.

      An idle person will cost the community or nation in welfare costs. An annuity of $10,000 would require an initial investment of $200,000 with an interest rate of 5%. If a person collects $10,000 per year, the community or nation would be better off lending funds of say $50,000 for training or education up to amend the burden.

      The piece above merely shows that the cost of borrowing for a nation is in effect nil. The debt obligations issued by a nation create a liability that is equally matched with a created asset, held by a resident US lender.

      Its like a bank adding to both sides of its balance sheet. The addition of an asset offsets or nullifies the addition of equal extent of a liability. Or in other words, are you better off if you borrow $1 from your mother? You owe what you now possess, so your circumstances are unchanged.

      The question for the Government now centers on what we get for our money expended in public projects? With Taxation, there is no justification because government can take your money and do pretty much as it pleases. With borrowing, the government will have to approach the citizen and provide a proper analysis.

      The amounts borrowed will be so large, that no one person or entity could ever exert noticeable control over a nation. It will be a far different story from the present one.

      When the state has to borrow, the kind of corruption you lament will quickly come to an end.

      There is no constraint upon earnings or investment or any worthy activity. No penalty or punishment for productive enterprise. There will also be a great contraction in government expenditures as cost and benefit analysis springs into action. Both factors will create a far more productive and wealthy nation.

      I hope that answers your questions.


      GM

  2. CommentedGary Marshall

    Here is a public finance solution to the Greek problem. If anyone can find the flaw, I shall be more than happy to give him or her $50,000. I am just tired of doing this.

    ####

    The costs of borrowing for a nation to fund public expenditures, if it borrows solely from its resident citizens and in the nation's currency, is nil.

    Why? Because if, in adding a financial debt to a community, one adds an equivalent financial asset, the aggregate finances of the community will not in any way be altered. This is simple reasoning confirmed by
    simple arithmetic.

    The community is the source of the government's funds. The government taxes the community to pay for public services provided by the government.

    Cost of public services is $10 million.

    Scenario 1: The government taxes $10 million.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    No community government debt, no community
    government IOU.

    Scenario 2: The government borrows $10 million from solely community lenders at a certain interest rate.

    Community finances: minus $10 million from community bank accounts for government expenditures.
    Community government debt: $10 million;
    Community government bond: $10 million.

    At x years in the future: the asset held by the community (lenders) will be $10 million + y interest. The deferred liability claimed against the community (taxpayers) will be $10 million + y interest.

    The value of all community government debts when combined with all community government IOUs or bonds is zero for the community. It is the same $0 combined worth whether the community pays its taxes immediately or never pays them at all.

    So if a community borrows from its own citizens to fund worthy public expenditures rather than taxes those citizens, it will not alter the aggregate finances of the community or the wealth of the community any
    more than taxation would have. Adding a financial debt and an equivalent financial asset to a community will cause the elimination of both when summed.

    Whatever financial benefit taxation possesses is nullified by the fact that borrowing instead of taxation places no greater financial burden on the community.

    However, the costs of Taxation are immense. By ridding the nation of Taxation and instituting borrowing to fund public expenditures, the nation will shed all those costs of Taxation for the negligible fee of borrowing in the financial markets and the administration of public
    debt.

    Regards,
    Gary Marshall

  3. CommentedJoon Jeon

    Could the authors give the resource in detail? Is there anyone who knows about this research?

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