Egypt’s tax rates below global average: World Bank
Ahram Online, Monday 26 Nov 2012
World Bank's 'Paying Taxes 2013' report finds that Egypt's average total tax rate stands at 42.6 pct - well below the global average

Egypt’s average total tax rate is well below the world average, according to the 'Paying Taxes 2013' report published by the World Bank (WB) and International Financial Corporation (IFC) on Sunday.

The report indicates that Egypt’s total tax rate, or the burden ratio at which individuals or businesses are taxed, is 42.6 per cent divided into income, profit and labour taxes, while the global average reached almost 44.7 per cent.

The WB defines the "total tax rate" as the measure of the amount of taxes and mandatory contributions payable by businesses after accounting for allowable deductions and exemptions as a share of commercial profits. Taxes withheld (such as personal income tax) or collected and remitted to tax authorities (such as value added taxes, sales taxes or goods and service taxes) are excluded. However, the current income tax ceiling in Egypt stands at 25 per cent.

Egypt tax revenue is an average of 14.1 per cent of total GDP, with an expected total of LE232 billion to be collected in 2012, according to the Ministry of Finance’s general budget report for the year 2012/13. This rate is considered low compared to global tax revenues.

Egypt is ranked 145thin the world for the efficiency of its tax system. The 'Paying Taxes 2013' report ranks 185 countries according to the tax-burden they place on small- and medium-sized businesses.

The report suggests that Egypt’s low ranking is due to the average number of tax payments and the "total hours" taxpayers spend on state and local taxes. Taxes are being paid over 392 hours annually divided into 29 periods, which is higher than global rates that reached 268 hours divided over 27.2 times annually, underlining the structural inefficiency of Egypt's tax-collection process.

Egypt introduced a reform of the tax law in 2005 that saw the elimination of the state development duty and the introduction of electronic filing, which, according to the report, led to a reduction of payments from 42 times in 2004 to 29 in 2011.

Earlier in November, the cabinet approved the implementation of a capital gains tax (CGT) on profits realised on the stock exchange, along with two new income tax brackets to be levied on high-income individuals. The new taxes aim at shoring up the state budget and filling the vast gap between different tax segments.

The report comes in light of new deficit-reduction steps to be taken in the near future, as the Egyptian government is pursuing ways to increase tax revenue to reduce the current budget deficit that has reached LE170 billion for the fiscal year ending in June 2012.