The Global Tax Expenditures Transparency Index (GTETI): Taking Tax Expenditure Scrutiny to the Next Level

Zurich | 10 October 2023

The Council on Economic Policies (CEP) and the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) have launched the Global Tax Expenditures Transparency Index (GTETI). With more than a hundred experts from academia, governments, civil society as well as regional and international organisations attending virtually or in person, the index was unveiled yesterday in Zurich, followed by a conference on the broader topic of tax expenditures.

Tax expenditures comprise all kinds of tax incentives, exemptions, deferrals, tax credits, etc. that governments use to pursue different policy goals, such as for instance attracting investment or fighting poverty. They are certainly not a minor issue: in some cases, governments forgo revenues of more than 10 percent of GDP due to those mechanisms. For a long time, tax expenditures have been the hidden side of the fiscal policy iceberg. This has changed with the Global Tax Expenditures Database, launched by CEP and IDOS in 2021, which gathers data on the use of tax expenditures in more than 100 countries worldwide.

With the GTETI, the two organisations have taken a next step in their joint engagement and developed a tool for a fine-grained analysis of tax expenditure reporting. The index assesses countries on five dimensions of reporting: (1) public availability, (2) institutional framework, (3) methodology and scope, (4) descriptive tax expenditure data, and (5) tax expenditure assessment. It provides a systematic framework to rank countries according to the regularity, quality and scope of their tax expenditure reports, and aims at increasing transparency and accountability in the tax expenditures field.

Among the 104 assessed countries, South Korea, Canada and the Netherlands rank top according to the overall GTETI score. Several low and lower-middle income countries such as Benin, Niger, Tunisia and Cameroon figure among the top 25 countries. In contrast, many high-income countries such as Czechia, Japan, Denmark or Switzerland belong to the 25 countries that obtain the lowest scores on the index.

“Improving the quality and scope of tax expenditure reporting is critical to increase transparency and accountability. It is also a necessary, although not sufficient, step towards evidence-based policy making in the field”, explains Agustin Redonda, CEP Senior Fellow leading CEP’s work on tax expenditures. For Christian von Haldenwang, Senior Researcher at IDOS, “the GTETI provides a wealth of detailed information that governments, civil society and international organisations can use to push for tax expenditure reforms. At the same time, it is also a great source of data for tax-related research”.

The GTETI is now accessible on the Tax Expenditures Lab website at The Tax Expenditures Lab is a hub for expertise, exchange and peer learning on the topic of tax expenditures.