Current and Preferred Treatment in the Light of the New Zealand and Australian GST Systems
Author: Marta Papis-Almansa
Publisher: Kluwer Law International B.V.
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Insurance constitutes a significant part of the financial services sector and is one of the foundations of modern economy and society. In the design of tax laws, however, whether and how to tax insurance is a complex issue that has become particularly controversial in the area of value-added tax (VAT). In the European Union, as in most of the world, insurance is exempt from VAT, but New Zealand and Australia do not follow this practice. Given that New Zealand’s simple, comprehensive goods and services tax (GST) – called ‘the world’s purest value-added tax’ – and its modified Australian version do not appear to suffer from the shortcomings in efficiency and effectiveness that plague European VAT, a comparison of the two systems is in order. This book is not only the first comparative in-depth study of the treatment of insurance in the two systems, but also the first comprehensive legal research devoted to the treatment of insurance in EU VAT published in English. Among the underlying issues and topics treated by the two systems covered are the following: – who has a right to deduct input VAT in relation to supplies inherent in insurance arrangements and to what extent; – what constitutes a supply of insurance and consideration for such a supply; – what transactions fall within the scope of the VAT Directive’s exemption for insurance; and – drawing a line between insurance and saving. The analysis is grounded in a methodology in which concepts of European VAT are compared with concepts performing the same function in the Australian and New Zealand GST laws. The author concludes with proposals for reform in EU VAT in the light of experience in these two major non-EU countries. Given that it has been proven that exemptions from VAT (such as insurance) cause a significant number of economic distortions and inefficiencies, this study represents a major contribution to a topical debate in European VAT law. It will be welcomed by taxation authorities, interested policymakers, practitioners, and scholars not only in Europe but worldwide.