Tax Administration and Compliance

Image credit: © Uganda Revenue Authority, Vanessa van den Boogaard

Many of the challenges low-income countries face in mobilising domestic resources are related to tax administration as much as tax policy. Our research on this theme encompasses all aspects of tax administration, from technology adoption, to data management and strategies for collecting revenue from different types of taxpayers. Tax compliance is a key focus, as low-income countries struggle with widespread evasion, corruption, and limited administrative capacity. Our research on compliance includes survey-based studies of taxpayers’ perceptions and attitudes, case studies, and large-scale field experiments.

Publications:

Can ICTs Increase Tax? Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia
by Giulia Mascagni , Andualem T. Mengistu & Firew B. Woldeyes

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working Paper 82 by Giulia Mascagni, Andualem T. Mengistu, and Firew B. Woldeyes. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. African tax administrations have experienced rapid modernisation in…

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July 2018
Can ICTs Increase Tax? Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia
by Giulia Mascagni, Andualem T. Mengistu & Firew B. Woldeyes

The widespread introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digitalised data management systems is one of the most important developments among African tax administrations in recent years. However, very little evidence is available on their effectiveness in practice, and how taxpayers respond to these changes. This paper starts filling this gap by reporting three…

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June 2018
Tax Reform for Low Income Countries: Five Ideas for Simplifying Tax Systems to Fit Local Realities
by Wilson Prichard & Mick Moore

There is no silver bullet to strengthen the tax systems of low-income countries. Dramatic changes in tax systems and tax collection are rare. Successful improvements more often involve a great deal of hard and steady work, and the gradual construction of popular trust and (grudging) support for reform. There remains, however, space for ‘organising ideas’…

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Tax in Development: Towards a Strategic Aid Approach
by Olav Lundstøl

Raising a higher share of the value added in an economy for the public purpose is associated with state building, modern economic growth and development. From 2002-3 to date, low- and lower-middle income countries raised total tax and non-tax revenue from 11-12 per cent and 18-19 per cent of GDP up to 17-18 per cent…

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Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development
by Mick Moore, Wilson Prichard & Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Taxing Africa is an accessible and comprehensive introduction to the crucial debates around taxation and development in Africa. Taxation has been seen as the domain of charisma-free accountants, lawyers and number crunchers – an unlikely place to encounter big societal questions about democracy, equity or good governance. Yet it is exactly these issues that pervade…

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May 2018
Linking Beneficial Ownership Transparency to Improved Tax Revenue Collection in Developing Countries
by Wilson Prichard

Recent years have witnessed an accelerating push to expand access to information on the beneficial ownership of corporate entities, in an effort to bring greater transparency to multinational corporation (MNC) tax strategies, identify personal tax-evading wealth held overseas and combat global networks of criminality and corruption. This effort remains in its infancy, but has made…

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Regulatory Burdens in Tax Administration and Firms’ Compliance Costs in Africa
by Merima Ali

This paper examines the effect of regulatory burdens related to tax administration on firms’ compliance costs in Africa. Using cross-country firm-level data, the results show that regulatory burdens related to tax administration significantly increase firms’ compliance costs compared to burdens related to other kinds of government regulations. The results further show that firms’ relationships with…

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What is the Role of Taxpayer Education in Africa?
by Giulia Mascagni & Fabrizio Santoro

The ICTD’s African Tax Administration Papers (ATAPs) are research papers that will be of specific interest to people working in tax administration in Africa. This paper, the first in the new ATAP series, reviews existing initiatives on taxpayer education in Africa, an area that has been largely under-researched in the literature. We start by providing…

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March 2018
Forest Taxation and REDD+: An Analysis of Potential Impacts in Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone
by Stephen Spratt, Philip Kargbo, Emmanuel Marfo, Emmanuel Ngungoh & Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen

This research explores the impacts that REDD+ could have on forest tax systems in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and considers how policy could be designed to increase the chances that these impacts are positive. To assess this, a methodological framework is identified and adapted. The framework has been used to explore how the implementation…

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Semi-Autonomous Revenue Authorities in sub-Saharan Africa: Silver Bullet or White Elephant?
by Roel Dom

A major component of tax administration reform in sub-Saharan Africa over the last thirty years has been the creation of semi-autonomous revenue authorities (SARAs). These operate at arm’s length from the ministry of finance, which is different to conventional tax administrations. They have an independent legal status, and usually integrate both customs and tax functions….

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Blogs:

July 2018
by Mick Moore & Wilson Prichard

Nancy Lee from the Centre for Global Development (CGD) recently published a piece arguing for a “surge in support” for domestic revenue mobilisation in low income countries and a major shift in how donor support for domestic revenue mobilisation is organised. It is an intriguing proposal, but one which is also likely to face very…

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May 2018
by Eric Zolt & Jason Oh

Interest in wealth taxes has spiked recently due to disclosures of tax-haven abuses by the ultra-wealthy (the Panama Papers in April 2016 and the Paradise Papers in November 2017) and new empirical work on rising wealth inequality in countries around the world. These developments have led many to consider comprehensive wealth taxes as a potential…

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October 2017
by Kyle McNabb

The increasing focus on domestic resource mobilization in developing countries means that, for researchers and policy makers, access to accurate and timely data is more important than ever. The Government Revenue Dataset (GRD) — developed by the International Centre for Tax and Development and now maintained by UNU-WIDER — remains the most complete source of…

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