Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Una forma más inteligente de recaudar

ATENAS/BERLÍN – A lo largo y ancho de la Unión Europea y el resto del mundo, muchos gobiernos parecen enfrentarse a un dilema insoluble: las deudas nacionales contraídas se han convertido en una pesada carga que los obliga a recortar gastos y aumentar los impuestos en un intento de reducir el déficit. Pero estas medidas desalientan el consumo, que es necesario para impulsar la actividad económica y el crecimiento. Conforme de la austeridad se pasa a discutir la implementación de medidas que estimulen el crecimiento, la búsqueda del equilibrio justo exige pensar en un modelo impositivo más inteligente.

Cuando los gobiernos se enfrentan a la difícil tarea de cobrar impuestos, suelen pensar en el impuesto sobre la renta, el impuesto de sociedades y el impuesto al valor agregado (IVA). Pero hay también otros mecanismos que permiten recaudar cifras considerables, con un efecto negativo mucho menor en la economía. Son los gravámenes que ya se aplican al consumo de electricidad y combustibles fósiles.

Estos impuestos ya son de por sí fundamentales para la reducción de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono causantes del cambio climático. Pero investigaciones recientes han demostrado que también sirven para recaudar para las arcas públicas sin pagar por ello un alto costo en términos de crecimiento económico.

Cada dólar, cada euro, cada yen recaudado mediante impuestos al uso de energía y a las emisiones repercute menos sobre la economía, el consumo y el nivel de empleo de cualquier país que ese mismo dólar, euro o yen obtenido mediante el impuesto sobre la renta o el IVA. Por ejemplo, un aumento de los impuestos directos (como el que grava la renta personal) puede provocar una reducción del consumo dos veces mayor que el mismo aumento de la recaudación mediante impuestos a la energía y a las emisiones.

Si se quiere revitalizar la actividad económica, es vital mantener un nivel de consumo tan alto como sea posible, y por consiguiente, es igual de importante liberar dinero para el consumo. Los impuestos a la energía y a las emisiones de dióxido carbono permiten recaudar para el fisco y al mismo tiempo dejar la economía mejor preparada para sostener una recuperación. Con los impuestos convencionales también se puede recaudar, pero al costo de un riesgo mucho mayor de deprimir el crecimiento.

Y hay además otras razones para prestar más atención a los impuestos a la energía y a las emisiones. El marco impositivo que se aplica en la actualidad al uso de la energía, particularmente en Europa, es insostenible. Según el combustible del que se trate, la tasa impositiva puede diferir en más del 50% entre países de la UE, lo que provoca grandes distorsiones en el mercado común. Uniformar el tratamiento impositivo de la energía en la UE armonizaría los incentivos económicos, eliminaría el turismo gasolinero (conductores que cruzan la frontera para llenar el tanque a mejor precio) y mejoraría el clima de negocios en todas las economías europeas.

El aumento del gasto en energía, impulsado por el costo de los combustibles fósiles, es un enorme problema político en muchos países de Europa y del resto del mundo, incluidos los Estados Unidos, donde el precio que pagan los consumidores por la energía se convirtió en un tema central de la campaña presidencial de este año. Pero en comparación con otras formas de imposición, los impuestos a la energía tienen un efecto general benéfico para los consumidores. Las ventajas que se derivan de evitar el impacto negativo de los impuestos convencionales se trasladan a toda la economía, especialmente porque las familias menos pudientes conservan un nivel de ingresos disponibles mayor.

En la mayoría de los casos, los impuestos a la energía y a las emisiones los cobran los gobiernos nacionales. Pero en Europa hay otra opción de recaudación: el Régimen de Comercio de Derechos de Emisión de la Unión Europea (o por sus siglas en inglés, EU ETS). A igualdad de ingresos, el costo (medido por el efecto sobre el PIB y el empleo) de usar el EU ETS para aumentar los ingresos fiscales sería hasta un tercio menor que con el impuesto sobre la renta o el IVA.

En vista del déficit fiscal que aqueja a Europa y el impacto económico que supone su reducción, esta propuesta encierra una ventaja potencial enorme. Pero para poder aprovecharla, hay que resolver antes los problemas que mantienen deprimido el precio de los derechos de emisión de dióxido de carbono: es fundamental eliminar del EU ETS la enorme sobreasignación de permisos que hay en la actualidad.

Los ministros de finanzas de todo el mundo necesitan ser más imaginativos a la hora de pensar en las opciones de recaudación disponibles. Los impuestos a la energía y a las emisiones pueden producir menos daño económico y más ventajas que los gravámenes convencionales. Europa necesita consolidación fiscal, reducción de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono y una estrategia de crecimiento económico. Para conseguir las tres cosas, habría que prestar más atención a los impuestos a la energía y a hacer más eficaz el EU ETS.

Traducción: Esteban Flamini

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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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