Vejam como são as coisas, conforme esta ótima (para sala de aula, nem se fala) matéria do Japan Times:
Akihiko Matsui, who works at the Economics Research Center in the University of Tokyo, explained in Asahi how the “addition to price” (kakaku tenka) that reflects the tax hike works. At every stage of distribution, the seller has to collect a tax from the buyer and eventually hand it over to the government. A retailer who pays the levy to the supplier of a given product or service in turn adds that amount to the price of the product when he sells it. But demand for that product may decrease as the tax goes up, thus pushing the price back down. Matsui says that in the real world the retailer and the consumer split the tax since the seller offsets the hike with a slight discount in the price. He cites a survey by a Tokyo merchants association which found that only 60 percent said they would pass on the tax hike in full to consumers. Many also said they would probably make adjustments by increasing frequency of bargain sales or rates of discount for those bargain sales, or by offering bonuses for membership point programs.
Businesses, in order to maintain sales volumes, will likely absorb at least part of the consumption tax hike themselves, meaning consumers may not see as much of a dent in their buying power as they’ve been led to believe by the media, at least in the retail sector. It is a natural market phenomenon.
Nada de novo, certo? Mas espere. Tem mais.
Last October, the government implemented the Act Concerning Special Measures for Pass-on of the Consumption Tax Increase, which endeavors to compel businesses to add the increase directly to prices, with no adjustments. In carrying out this directive, the Fair Trade Commission has hired an army of 600 “G-men,” retired businessmen and bureaucrats who will patrol commercial districts to make sure companies are complying.
É isto mesmo que você leu. Depois a notícia segue dizendo que não há penalidades para quem descumpra a lei (leia-se: para quem faça o que consegue fazer, dadas as elasticidades-preço da demanda e da oferta). Então, além do desperdício de dinheiro público, o que mais poderia ser dito sobre esta estranha lei?
Apparently, it has to do with being responsible. As one of the G-men told Asahi, “It’s important to make consumers understand” that they have to pay their full share. The government’s justification for a consumption tax is that everyone, rich and poor, pays it equally, but that’s a delusion, because capitalism, especially the free-market type ostensibly worshipped by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, favors those with the most economic power.
Um tanto quanto bizarro, não é? Então eu fui lá ver a legislação. Eis um trecho:
1 Compliance Rules on Specific Enterprises [Specific enterprises shall not conduct the following practices to specific supply enterprises.]
i. Price reduction/slashing
ii. Coerced purchase/coerced use of service, unfairly coerced offering of benefits
iii. Rejection of negotiation based on net-of-tax price
iv. Retaliate practices
Além disso aí, a mesma – ao contrário do Brasil – é sintética e breve. Isto me deixou curioso: como seria o sistema tributário japonês? Aí eu encontrei isto e isto. Nada muito diferente do que eu esperava mesmo: alguns impostos, um certo grau de federalismo fiscal, nada demais. Mas por que é que o governo resolveu lutar contra a realidade? Como visto acima, somente por uma questão de discurso político. Afinal, não há como escapar: as elasticidades-preço da oferta e da demanda é que darão o tom da sinfonia.