Effects of tax-benefit policies on the income distribution and work incentives in Estonia
The paper studies the impact of tax-benefit policies on the distribution of household incomes and work incentives in Estonia. It makes use of microsimulation modelling approach and applies the EU tax-benefit model EUROMOD to quantify the first-order effects of policy changes in 2016-2018 and of a range of alternative policy scenarios aimed at increasing the adequacy of social benefits. According to the simulations, 2016-2017 policies increased household incomes relative to inflation and were both poverty and inequality reducing. Alternative policy scenarios indicate that, among the considered options, increasing the generosity of the subsistence benefit and relaxing its means test by halving the withdrawal rate (currently at 100%), would have the highest first-order impact for a given fiscal cost. However, these measures would also weaken work incentives, which points to a conventional equity-efficiency trade-off. Other simulations demonstrate some scope for improving work incentives at low and middle-income levels together with modest reductions in poverty and inequality.