Value added tax on financial services 1

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10 Box 2 Illustration of a potential tax on income from interest margins The tax base for a tax on income from interest margins is defined by formula (1) below. By households are meant those customers of the financial enterprises that are not registered for value added tax. The benchmark interest rate in the formula is used in the event of discrepancy between total lending to households and total deposits from households. It is required for purposes of calculating further deductions from, or additions to, the tax base. Ideally speaking, the benchmark interest rate should be designed in such a way as to make the tax base match the actual interest margins of enterprises. This may be difficult to achieve in practice. The benchmark interest rate may therefore, as a main rule, be determined by the authorities, but could also conceivably be calculated by each financial enterprise. The other variables would have to be added up by the financial enterprise, based on transactions within a given period of time, for example annually. These variables cannot be obtained directly from the financial statements of these enterprises. This is because these shall only include services provided to customers that are not required to collect value added tax. One might, however, envisage such variables being linked to corresponding accounting definitions for all customers. (1) Tax base = interest income from lending to households interest costs on deposits from households benchmark interest rate * (total lending to households total deposits from households) loss on lending to households Table 1 provides a simple example as to how the tax on interest margins might be calculated. The example distinguishes between lending to, and deposits from, households (including other non-registered customers) and customers that are registered for value added tax, respectively. Lending exceeds deposits, and it is assumed that the difference is funded by equity and capital from other sources. The amounts are solely intended as illustrations for purposes of presenting a calculation example. Table 1 Calculation example for a tax on income from interest margins. NOK million Information concerning the activities of the bank Amount Interest Lending to households 2, Lending to customers that are registered for value added tax 2, = Total lending 4, Deposits from households 1, Deposits from customers that are registered for value added tax 1, Equity Other sources of capital 1, = Total funding 4, Calculation of tax on interest margin Base Lending to households 80 - Deposits from households Benchmark interest rate * (total lending to households total deposits from households) = 3 pct. * (2,000 1,000) Loss on lending to households -5 = Tax base 25 Tax (25 pct. of the tax base) 6.25 Source: Norwegian Ministry of Finance. This example uses a fixed benchmark interest rate of 3 pct. However, there may be large variations between the interest rates that make up the interest margins of various financial enterprises. One may therefore consider permitting each financial enterprise to calculate its own benchmark interest rate contingent on approval by the authorities. In this example, nonetheless, a benchmark interest rate of 3 pct. may not necessarily be particularly misleading. This is because the benchmark interest rate in the example corresponds to the average capital cost rate applicable to other sources of capital (45/1,500 = 3 pct.), and the benchmark interest rate in the example is halfway between the average interest rate on lending to households (80/2000 = 4 pct.) and the average interest rate on deposits from households (20/1,000 = 2 pct.).

12 Table 2 Estimated tax revenue effects from introducing value added tax on financial services and a tax on margin income, both at the rate of 25 pct. NOK million Sector VAT on fees /premiums Margin income Input VAT Change in tax revenues Banks 1,900 4,400-1,400 4,900 Non-life insurance 1, ,000 Other financial institutions* 1,100 2,000-2, Total 4,600 6,400-4,200 6,800 * Includes investment firms, credit institutions and securities fund management companies. Sources: Statistics Norway and Norwegian Ministry of Finance. If the tax changes are fully reflected in the prices of financial services, such changes may entail cost savings in the region of NOK 2 billion for businesses. This is because the financial sector will be able to deduct input value added tax relating to these services, thus eliminating the current tax cascading. These cost savings may trigger somewhat lower lending rates and non-life insurance premiums, and somewhat higher deposit rates, for customers that are registered for value added tax. For households, the public sector and others that are not registered for value added tax, these changes may trigger a price increase in the form of somewhat higher lending rates and somewhat lower deposit rates. Premiums on non-life insurance may also increase somewhat. It must, however, be assumed that part of the tax changes will not be passed on to customers, and instead influence, inter alia, profits and wages within the financial industry. This suggests that prices may change less than would otherwise have been the case.

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