Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


JEL Codes

H87, H25, F10, F13, F14

Working Paper Number



In principle, a VAT should be neutral with regards to both the level and composition of exports. In practice, this may not be the case because exporters in many countries receive incomplete VAT refunds. When VAT refunds are incomplete, the exports of industries that rely heavily on intermediate goods are especially likely to be negatively affected by a VAT. Motivated by these considerations, this paper uses trade data for over 100 countries spanning 1962-2015 to evaluate the differential effect of the VAT across industries. I find that an industry with a 10% point higher intermediate goods share of output sees a decline in exports of over 8% relative to an industry with a lower share. This effect is particularly pronounced for low-income countries and essentially absent for high-income countries.

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