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U.S. tops green tax index

The United States is the leading country in terms of using tax as a tool to promote sustainable corporate activity and achieve green policy goals, according to the first-of-its-kind KPMG Green Tax Index.

Green tax - which could be in the form of grants, subsidies and loan - is imposed on goods and services that produce environmental pollutants. This excise tax is intended to offset the negative impacts caused by non-green products and services by encouraging changes in the behavior of companies and households that could potentially reduce their environmental footprint.

Out of 21 countries, the U.S. has the most extensive green taxation program including federal tax incentives for energy, specifically, incentives for energy efficiency, renewable energy and green buildings.

The U.S. tax code also offers several green tax credits, such as the production tax credit on renewable energy and tax incentives construction of efficient buildings.

However, looking at green tax penalties, the U.S. just ranked 14th, indicating that the country’s green tax policy largely focused in incentives.

Japan placed second in the overall ranking but it scored higher than the U.S. on green tax penalties. It also tops the ranking for tax measures promoting the use and manufacture of green vehicles.

On the third spot is Britain, having a green tax approach balanced between incentives and penalties. The country particularly earned high scores in the area of carbon and climate change.

France, being the fourth placer, has a green tax policy is more inclined to penalties than incentives.

South Korea got the fifth position and just like the U.S., its green tax system is weighed towards incentives than penalties. The country leads the ranking in the area of green innovation, which suggests that it is especially active in using its tax code to encourage green research and development.

Occupying the sixth place is China, with green tax policy also seen a balance between incentives and penalties like Britain. It mainly focused on green buildings and resource efficiency including energy, water and materials.

Launched in Shanghai, the KPMG Green Tax Index analyzed green tax incentives and penalties in 21 major economies, exploring how governments use their tax systems to respond to world’s pressing challenges including energy security, water and resource scarcity, pollution and climate change.

The index aims to raise corporate awareness of the dynamic and complex global landscape of green tax and to encourage stakeholders to integrate green tax considerations into investment decisions.

“The KPMG Green Tax Index provides important directional insight for corporate sustainability decision makers, CFOs and board members into how countries are using taxes to influence corporate behavior,” said John Gimigliano, principal-in-charge of sustainability tax in the Washington National Tax practice of KPMG LLP.

“Japan, for example, tops the rankings in its promotion of tax incentives for green vehicle production, while the United States favors a comprehensive system of renewable energy tax incentives. As a result, we're seeing more green cars coming out of Japan and dramatic growth in the U.S. renewable sector,” he stressed. – C. Dominguez

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