Value Added Tax or VAT as it is popularly called is an indirect tax that is levied on business transactions. VAT is applicable on all business deals that include the transfer of services and goods. VAT is imposed on the additional value resulting out of such a business transaction. It is also known as Goods and Services Tax or GST. VAT is paid by the final consumer. Goods that are exported are usually exempted from VAT in order to avert double taxation. Even if VAT is charged it is subject to refund.
Value Added Tax was introduced by Maurice Laure, a well known French economist,in 1954. At that point of time it was known as taxe sur la valeur ajoutee. He was also one of the Directors of the French tax authority. Initially VAT was meant for big businesses but gradually it was applied to every sphere of business. The European Union Value Added Tax or EU VAT is applicable for all the countries that are part of the European Union.
The VAT rates differ in each of the member countries of the European Union. It is fixed at a minimum standard rate of 15%. In some countries, however, the VAT rates are as low as 5% and levied on specific commodities like power and domestic fuel. The maximum VAT imposed in any of the European Union countries is 25%.
In Italy, the Value Added Tax imposed on various business transactions and purchases is 20%. Value added tax charged on basic products is levied at a reduced rates of 4% and 10%. Even services, imports and assets come under the domain of value added tax in Italy. VAT returns are submitted on a monthly basis. They can also be made once in every quarter. At the end of the financial year, an annual VAT return is to submitted on the 15th of March.
Since VAT is also applied to one's assets, the tax rates are fixed in between 4%-8% of the total asset value. Apart from the VAT, the Inheritance tax is also in place in Italy after its re introduction in 2007.
The Value Added Tax system in Italy is in line with the European Union Value Added Tax rules and regulations. According to it, the VAT is paid by the final consumer only. At the production and distribution level, the suppliers of various services and goods deduct the input VAT. The tax is levied on any and every service or article that forms a part of a business transaction in Italy.
In Nigeria, as well as around the world, a majority of taxpayers view tax not as a contractual contribution to government expense, but as an involuntary tribute to be paid to avoid prosecution and penalty. Merely transcribing taxes from economic textbooks into local law will not work; tax regimes have to be developed from within the society, and targeted at the peculiar needs of the government. Tax policies have to be written by the people – and for the people. Only then would a sense of participation and expectation be truly generated, and the tax system manifestly effective.
Professor at Columbia University. Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 & the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979. Author of "Freefall: America, Free Markets", "The Sinking of the World Economy", "Globalisation and its Discontents" & "Making Globalisation Work".
Eric J. Gleacher Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. IMF’s Chief Economist from September 2003 to January 2007. Inaugural recipient of the Fischer Black Prize.