This paper aims to provide a quantitative assessment of the broad economic effects of tax policy reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Using a dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the KSA, three simulations are run. The first simulation is the baseline simulation, which generates growth paths of the Saudi economy in the absence of tax reform. In developing the baseline simulation, this study incorporates forecasts from the International Monetary Fund. The remaining simulations are policy simulations. A policy simulation deviates from the baseline simulation in response to a policy change. In the first policy simulation, this study introduces a value-added tax (VAT) that generates SAR 35bn. This study assumes budget neutrality with the additional tax revenue transferred to households via a lump sum payment. In the second policy simulation, this study introduces a corporate income tax that generates SAR 35bn. This study then calculates and compares the distortion these taxes introduce into the economy.
This study finds that although the introduction of new taxes increases government tax revenue, markets are distorted lowering efficiency and production. An introduction of VAT increases the cost of consumption relative to the cost of production. As a consequence, the real cost of labour increases lowering employment in the short run. Employment moves to the baseline, as wages adjust capital and real gross domestic product (GDP) is below base throughout the simulation period. The second simulation is an increase in the corporate tax rate with lowers the post-tax rates of return investors receive. This simulation shows that the negative impact on investment, capital and GDP is larger with the introduction of a corporate tax than with the VAT.
Literature focusing on tax policy reform in the Gulf Cooperation Council and, specifically, Saudi Arabia is limited. This paper contributes to the literature by focusing on the following: understanding the impact and mechanisms through which changes in taxation impact the economy more generally; understanding the potential harm caused to allocative efficiency and production due to taxes; and ways in which fiscal reform might complement other reforms such as efforts to diversify the economy, labour market and energy price reforms. This improves the information base available to policymakers charged with designing an optimal tax system that meets all future requirements of a country such as the KSA.
The authors developed and applied a CGE model for the KSA to analyse the impact of VAT and corporate tax on the Saudi economy. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, there are no recent CGE models for Saudi Arabia that have been used for tax policy or quantifying the potential harm to the economy when new taxes are introduced.
Roos, E.L. and Adams, P.D. (2021), "Fiscal reform: a computable general equilibrium (CGE) analysis for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", International Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Finance and Management, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 812-834. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMEFM-05-2020-0223
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