Monday, 21 October 2013

Corporate Income Tax

 Corporate Income Tax
Tax policy issues relating to corporate income tax are numerous and complex, but particularly relevant for developing countries are the issues of multiple rates based on sectoral differentiation and the incoherent design of the depreciation system. Developing countries are more prone to having multiple rates along sectoral lines (including the complete exemption from tax of certain sectors, especially the parastatal sector) than industrial countries, possibly as a legacy of past economic regimes that emphasized the state's role in resource allocation. Such practices, however, are clearly detrimental to the proper functioning of market forces (that is, the sectoral allocation of resources is distorted by differences in tax rates). They are indefensible if a government's commitment to a market economy is real. Unifying multiple corporate income tax rates should thus be a priority.
Allowable depreciation of physical assets for tax purposes is an important structural element in determining the cost of capital and the profitability of investment. The most common shortcomings found in the depreciation systems in developing countries include too many asset categories and depreciation rates, excessively low depreciation rates, and a structure of depreciation rates that is not in accordance with the relative obsolescence rates of different asset categories. Rectifying these shortcomings should also receive a high priority in tax policy deliberations in these countries.
In restructuring their depreciation systems, developing countries could well benefit from certain guidelines:

    Classifying assets into three or four categories should be more than sufficient—for example, grouping assets that last a long time, such as buildings, at one end, and fast-depreciating assets, such as computers, at the other with one or two categories of machinery and equipment in between.
    Only one depreciation rate should be assigned to each category.
    Depreciation rates should generally be set higher than the actual physical lives of the underlying assets to compensate for the lack of a comprehensive inflation-compensating mechanism in most tax systems.
    On administrative grounds, the declining-balance method should be preferred to the straight-line method. The declining-balance method allows the pooling of all assets in the same asset category and automatically accounts for capital gains and losses from asset disposals, thus substantially simplifying bookkeeping requirements.