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Europe’s brain drain is getting worse — so some countries are scrapping income tax for young people

Europe’s brain drain is getting worse — so some countries are scrapping income tax for young people

Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries are proposing radical tax incentives for young people, as part of a drive to stem the flow of skilled workers to Western EU states.

A so-called ‘brain drain’ is dimming the economic prospects of some CEE countries, with young people disproportionately making the most of the bloc’s freedom of movement in search of better paid jobs.

It has prompted Poland’s government to completely scrap income taxes for approximately 2 million young workers.

The new law — which came into effect at the start of the month — is designed to help retain young Polish citizens.

When advocating for the law in parliament, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said 1.7 million people had left the country in the past 15 years.

It is “as if the entire city of Warsaw has left,” he said, before describing the demographic decline as a “gigantic loss.”

To be sure, Polish citizens under the age of 26 who earn less than 85,528 zloty ($22,207) a year will now no longer have to pay income tax.

The average salary is around 60,000 zloty — meaning the threshold is comparatively high for young people in Poland.

Meanwhile, Croatia has also proposed to scrap income tax for people up to 25 years of age and cut it by half for people aged between 25 to 30.

The proposed changes are expected to be completed over the coming months, with new legislation set to take effect from January 1, 2020.

However, analysts told CNBC they had strong doubts about whether such tax relief measures would prevent the drain of young workers.