‘Klin’-ing up: effects of Polish tax reforms on those in and on those out

In 2007 and 2008 Polish governments introduced a series of reforms which led to a substantial reduction in the tax “wedge” (in Polish: “klin”) on labour. These consisted of reductions in the disability rate of Social Security Contributions (SSCs) and an introduction of an income tax credit for families with children. We show that the SSCs reforms on their own brought much greater reductions in the tax burden compared to a widely discussed 15% “flat tax”, despite a very similar simulated cost. When considered together the package of introduced reforms reduced the mean ATR on total labour cost from 41.6% to 35.7%. This compares to the mean ATR of 39.6% which would result from the introduction of the “flat tax”. In the analysis we present the effects of the reforms both for the employed and for the non-employed populations. The latter analysis is done in such a way as to account for the entire (simulated) distribution of wages of the non-employed and shows interesting differences between the effects of reforms on employed and non-employed individuals. We argue that to fully appreciate the effect of reductions in labour taxation it is important to bear in mind that one of the reasons for introducing them is to make employment more likely for those who currently do not work, and demonstrate that the introduced package has had a particularly important effect on non-employed second earners. Given the extent of the reductions in the “klin” it is somewhat surprising that so far so little attention has been given to the recent Polish reforms.