Tax systems and tax reforms in new EU members

This book deals with tax reform in New EU countries. It describes the changes that have occurred in the tax systems of a group of countries that underwent a transformation, or a transition, from being centrally planned to becoming market economies. This has been a remarkable journey that has required enormous and difficult reforms.

There was no road map for these countries to follow, because it was a journey on  uncharted territory. No group of countries had ever traveled this territory before. However, there was the advantage of knowing where to go, if not how to get there. The destination was the creation of tax systems and tax administrations not too different from those of the EU countries.

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In theory, one could assume that all that these countries had to do was to make copies of the tax laws of some EU country and make them their own. This, however, would be missing completely what tax reform is and how tax systems must be nested in the economy of a country. They must reflect the structural characteristics of a country’s economy if they are to be successful.

The economies of the countries discussed in this book have been undergoing fundamental changes. Some of theses changes are still taking place. Thus, in some ways, their tax systems have been adapting themselves to moving targets. It is to be expected that this process will continue for a few more years until the economies of these countries become fully market oriented, with characteristics, structures, and institutions similar to those of the other European countries.

That this is not yet the case can be seen, in part, from the levels of their per capita incomes that are still much lower than those of the group of countries that they are joining. New Members have still to build an efficient tax administration. Most of all, these European countries should be aware that from the Magna Carta era, in the 13th century, a tax system is a foundation of any free democracy.