Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Flat Tax Wrap-Up

A flat tax on individuals (households) and, in some instances, the same flat-rate on individuals and corporations, has spread throughout most of Central and Eastern Europe. The remaining holdouts in alphabetical order, along with their tax-rate schedules, are as follows:

Croatia: 15, 25, 35, 45%
Hungary: 18, 36, 40%
Kosovo: 5, 10, 20%
Moldova: 7, 10, 22%
Poland: 19, 30, 40%
Republika Srpska (Serb-ruled portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina): 10, 15%
Slovenia: 16, 27, 41%

Croatia and Slovenia have steadfastly resisted any movement to a flat tax. Croatia has stuck to a tax-incentive approach for particular investments in specified locations. Slovenia regards itself as a member country of Western Europe, which requires that it maintain a schedule of steeply-graduated rates.

Serious movement towards a flat tax has yet to occur in Hungary and Moldova.

In Poland the governing coalition under the leadership of Prime Minister Donald Tusk favors a flat tax, but the leading opposition party holds the office of president with the power to veto legislation. If and when Tusk’s party wins control of both parliament and the presidency, Poland will be poised to adopt a 19% flat tax on individuals to complement its 19% corporate tax.

Kosovo is a brand-new Muslim country with a large concentration of Catholic Serbs in the upper 10% of the country bordering Serbia. Its immediate neighbor on its southwest border, Muslim Albania, adopted a flat tax in mid-2007. In this regard, the prospects for Kosovo following suit in the near future appear promising.

Republika Srpska has only to eliminate its 15% rate to attain parity with the 10% flat tax adopted in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2008.

Other Flat Tax Potpourri

The province of New Brunswick in Eastern Canada has been debating the merits of a flat tax for several months. A bi-party committee concluded its examination of the tax issue in mid-November 2008. The committee’s recommendation was for a provincial flat tax of 10% to rival that of Alberta. In addition, it was suggested that the corporate rate be cut from 13% to 5%. Any lost revenue is to be made up from a rise in the harmonized sales tax from 13% to 15%.

In late November, Dutch Minister of Finance Wouter Bos stated that he was not opposed to a flat tax of 37% that would replace the current four-bracket set of rates that peaks at 52%.

Expatriates in Korea can choose the lower of two personal income tax calculations. One imposes a 17% flat tax that excludes deductions and credits. The other treats 70% of gross income as taxable, exempting 30% from formal earned income and then allows for certain deductions and credits. Domestic Korean employees are subject to a four-bracket schedule with a top rate of 34% in 2009.

The Swiss Canton of Thurgau is poised to vote on a cantonal flat tax in September 2009. The odds are favorable that it will become the third Swiss Canton to replace graduated income taxes with a flat tax.


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charlie said...

Moldova has a two bracket personal income tax rate system: 7% and 18%.

Serbia doesn't have a flat tax and they never had it: they had in year 2003 like 14% flat tax, but personal incomes above some income level where taxed again with surtax of 10%. Now they have two brackets system of 10% and 15%.,1001,cid%253D196586,00.html

Poland has now (from 2009) two brackets system: 18% and 32%,Income_tax_cuts_for_2009,id,359459.htm