This article aims to shed light on the cost of social protection in terms of social and tax expenditure and changes to and exemptions from mandatory contributions. The article begins with a cost-based typology of social and tax expenditures on social protection in 2011, before turning to the forms of protection that represent a significant cost to social institutions, such as social security, unemployment benefits, and supplementary pensions. Above and beyond the clearly identified exonerations from social contributions, and the losses they create, which are generally compensated for, there is a series of exemptions that also significantly lowers social revenue due to the broad nature of the tax base in question: Around 9% of the total private sector payroll is not subjected to standard social contributions. The loss of income due to exemptions which social contributions fail to cover amounted to some 24 billion euros in 2015, contributing not only to the country’s social security deficit, but even more markedly to the deficits in unemployment, insurance and supplementary pension funds. At the same time, employees saw their contributor’s rights to a pension and unemployment benefits partially reduced by the same systems. The article demonstrates that a proportion of the exemptions can be interpreted as a partial renunciation of social insurance in favor of private collective contracts.
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