What’s the Best Way to Tax Consumers? VAT vs. Sales vs. GRT

Anthony Galli
5 min readSep 29, 2023

A value-added tax is a tax on each step of the supply chain.

For example, if America had a 20% VAT then if you bought iron ore for $60 then how much would you have paid in VAT?

$10.

And then if you turned your iron ore into a bicycle and sold it to a bicycle shop for $120 then how much would you have collected in VAT?

$20.

Once you send your $20 to the government you’d then get back the $10 you paid in VAT so that in the end the final consumer would pay the full 20% VAT ($40) since they don’t get reimbursed.

I simplified the concept as best I could, but even still the VAT is quite complex, especially when you consider that some countries only reimburse part of it on some goods on some steps of the supply chain.

The value-added tax’s complexity is one of the reasons why I prefer a sales tax.

A sales tax just taxes the last step directly!

With a sales tax, only businesses that sell directly to customers are required to collect it, which amounts to an average of 33 hours of paperwork whereas with VAT virtually every business is required to not only collect the tax, but then ask the government for reimbursement, which then amounts to an average of 68 hours of paperwork.

I also prefer a sales tax because it tends to be lower where estimates put the average sales tax at 6.5% and VAT at 21%.

Sales taxes tend to be lower because it’s more transparent since customers see it on their receipts whereas the VAT…

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