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Journal Article

The fiscal and equity impact of social tax expenditures in the EU


Publication date

Jul 2020


Tax expenditures (TEs) are preferential tax treatments granted to specific individuals or categories of households, with the aim of achieving social and economic goals. They are widely used by EU Member States. However, their fiscal and equity impacts are not always clear and their effectiveness and efficiency as a policy instrument need to be carefully evaluated, especially in the present context of constrained public finances. This article quantifies the fiscal and equity effects of social TEs related to housing, education and health in 28 European countries making use of EUROMOD, the EU-wide microsimulation model. We find a variety of effects, in terms of sign and magnitude, across Member States, and within these, among types of households. Overall, our findings suggest that the impact of TE on tax revenues and on income inequalities can be sizable. The redistributive impact of removing TEs can go in both directions, either on the progressive or regressive side, depending on the country and the TE considered.

Published in

Journal of European Social Policy

Volume and page numbers

30 , 355 -369





Public Policy, Welfare Benefits, Microsimulation, Taxation, and Economic Policy


University of Essex, Albert Sloman Library Periodicals *restricted to University of Essex registered users* -

Related publications

  1. The fiscal and equity impact of social tax expenditures in the EU

    Salvador Barrios, Flavia Coda Moscarola, Francesco Figari, et al.

    1. Public Policy
    2. Welfare Benefits
    3. Microsimulation
    4. Taxation
    5. Economic Policy


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