The definition, measurement, and evaluation of tax expenditures and tax reliefs
Myles, Gareth D.
National Audit Office
Tax reliefs and tax expenditures are two closely related and overlapping concepts. The distinction between tax reliefs and tax expenditures is a subtle one and can only be clear after careful description of the two concepts. The first part of the report discusses how to define and categorise these concepts. Section 1 focuses upon the issue of how to define a tax expenditure and, therefore, how to distinguish a tax expenditure from a tax relief. This analysis is necessary since there is no consistency of definition in existing work or in practice. After a review of existing definitions a new definition of tax expenditures is proposed with the intention that it is useful for guiding categorisation. Section 2 reviews a number of alternative categorisations of tax expenditures and tax reliefs. Recommendations are made on the use of categorisations for the purposes of review and evaluation. The final section discusses characteristics that identify tax expenditures for review and proposes triggers for review.
Technical paper prepared for the National Audit Office © National Audit Office 2014