White, James R., Director, Strategic Issues, GAO, “Value-Added Taxes: Potential Lessons for the United States from Other Countries’ Experiences,” Testimony Before the Committee on Ways and Means, July 26, 2011

“…Some available data from our study countries indicate a VAT may be less expensive and easier to administer than an income tax. In 2006, the tax administration agency in the United Kingdom measured administrative costs for the VAT to be approximately half a percent of revenue collected compared to over one and a quarter percent for the income tax. Officials at the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department also told us that administering their VAT was easier than administering some of their other taxes. For example, only 3 percent of VAT returns submitted to New Zealand’s revenue agency are found to have errors, compared to approximately 25 percent for income tax returns. ..”

“…One overriding lesson about VAT design is that, like our income tax system, adding tax preferences to the system may satisfy economic, distributional, or other policy goals but at a cost. Tax preferences—in the form of exemptions, zero rates, or reduced rates—often reduce revenue, add complexity, and increase compliance risks. To mitigate the increased risk, countries have imposed additional record-keeping and reporting requirements on businesses, delayed refunds, and done more auditing of businesses. The end result is an increase in compliance burden for businesses and administrative costs for the government…”