Distribution of the VAT Burden in Poland by Income Group and Demographic Characteristics

The Value Added Tax (VAT) is the main source of revenue for the public budget in Poland. Though issues regarding VAT rates or tax settlement mechanisms are brought into the public debate in Poland on a regular basis, little is still known on the distribution of the VAT burden among Polish households. In this brief, we analyze the VAT relation to household income, consumption and demographic structure in Poland. We find that the VAT burden is inversely related to income, with the bottom ten percent of the population paying on average 16.3% of their income in VAT and the top income group paying only 6.8%. Larger households, such as those with children, pay about 11%-15% more VAT due to higher spending. However, as a result of different spending structures, the additional VAT burden of families with children is independent of the number of children and only marginally dependent on their age. These differences in the tax burden should be taken into consideration in the current debate on the possibility of unifying the VAT rates in Poland.