Lessons from Spain, Germany and Canada
Studies in Fiscal Federalism and State–local Finance series
Edited by Núria Bosch and José M. Durán
Jesús Ruiz-Huerta Carbonell and Ana Herrero Alcalde 1 INTRODUCTION Spain has undergone an intense devolution process during the last three decades. A new level of government – regional government, namely the Autonomous Community (AC) – was created after the 1978 Constitution was passed, and although the constitutional structure of the country is not a federal one, the current degree of decentralization in both taxes and public expenditure is similar to that existing in most federations. As a consequence, the main problems that had to be resolved during that devolution process are very similar to the ones existing in federal countries.1 The ﬁnancing system of the ACs has gone through a deep process of change since its ﬁrst implementation in the early 1980s, with a progressive enlargement of regional tax resources and a proportional reduction of central government transfers.2 However, there still is an important level of dependence on those transfers, basically on the Suﬃciency Fund (Fondo de Suﬁciencia), which represents around one-third of ACs’ total resources – approximately 24 000 million euros in 2004. This fund, which is aimed at resolving both vertical and horizontal imbalances, is the main equalization instrument of the Spanish regional ﬁnancing system. Both the regional tax resources and central government transfers were subject to a strong revision in 2001, which was accepted by all its participants. The main characteristics of that reform were the increase of regional shares in personal income tax (PIT) (33 percent); the implementation of a tax-sharing system in consumption taxes (35...
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