De l’avantage de l’incitation fiscale

CAMBRIDGE – Les gouvernements du monde entier sont en train de mettre au point de vastes formules d’incitations fiscales qui vont provoquer des déficits budgétaires encore inédits en temps de paix. Le déficit des finances publiques aux États-Unis cette année va sans doute dépasser 10 % du PIB. Une proportion significative de cette augmentation du déficit sera due à un vaste éventail de nouvelles dépenses du gouvernement.

Dans des circonstances ordinaires, j’opposerais cette augmentation du déficit budgétaire au niveau plus élevé des dépenses du gouvernement. Quand une économie est plus proche du plein emploi, l’emprunt gouvernemental servant à financer les déficits budgétaires peut ne laisser aucune place à l’investissement privé qui augmenterait la productivité et le niveau de vie. Les déficits budgétaires augmentent automatiquement la dette du gouvernement, ce qui nécessite de lever des taxes plus élevées pour payer les intérêts de cette dette. Le taux de taxation plus élevé qui en découle dénature les incitations économiques et par conséquent affaiblit les futures performances économiques.

Naturellement, certaines dépenses du gouvernement sont souhaitables ou nécessaires. Mais une augmentation des dépenses est souvent synonyme de gaspillage, qui produit moins de valeurs que ce qu’auraient obtenu les consommateurs avec les mêmes dollars.

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