Tax and Governance

There is mounting evidence that increased taxation can spur statebuilding and increase government accountability.  This possibility is critical: without strong links between taxation, statebuilding and accountability, expanded taxation may fail to deliver improved outcomes for taxpayers.  However, such links are far from guaranteed, and depend, among other things, on the types of taxes raised, the nature and equity of tax enforcement, the extent of transparency, the existence of forums for popular engagement and the role of civil society in supporting popular demand making.  The current phase of our research on this theme focuses on identifying concrete strategies for strengthening the links between taxation and good governance at both the local and national levels.

Publications:

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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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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March 2018
Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity
by Wollela Abehodie Yesegat & Richard Krever

In most federal systems, state governments are funded through a combination of direct fiscal transfers from the central government, and the revenue they collect directly from locally adopted taxes. Ethiopia is a federal polity, but follows a slightly different path in the case of its most important tax source – value added tax (VAT). As…

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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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Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity
by Wollela Abehodie Yesegat & Richard Krever

Fiscal federalism comprises the distribution of functions and tax revenue sources between central and regional governments. Fiscal federalism issues in respect of value added tax (VAT) do not arise in unitary states; in federal states questions arise as to which level of government should levy the tax, and how revenue should be divided between central…

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Building tax systems in fragile states. Challenges, achievements and policy recommendations
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Morten Bøås, Julie Brun Bjørkheim & Frida Margrethe Kvamme

The purpose of this study is to systematise and analyse existing knowledge on taxation in fragile states. Efforts to support domestic revenue mobilisation in conflict situations require a different approach and other means than in the more stable developing countries. On that basis, the study discusses possible entry points for Norwegian support to domestic revenue…

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February 2018
Colonial Legacy, State‐building and the Salience of Ethnicity in Sub‐Saharan Africa
by Merima Ali, Odd‐Helge Fjeldstad, Boqian Jiang & Abdulaziz B. Shifa

African colonial history suggests that British colonial rule may have undermined state centralisation due to legacies of ethnic segregation and stronger executive constraints. Using micro‐data from anglophone and francophone countries in sub‐Saharan Africa, we find that anglophone citizens are less likely to identify themselves in national terms (relative to ethnic terms). To address endogeneity concerns,…

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Blogs:

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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September 2016
by Oluseun Onigbinde

A secure nation On a visit to Kigali, a lady extolled their army and why they have the respect of every citizen. Like every typical African, she could not reconcile how the world famous Nigerian military cannot take down Boko Haram. It is clear that we have underfunded our military in years past and recent…

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July 2016
by Rhiannon McCluskey

Last week, the Institute of Development Studies hosted its 50th anniversary conference titled “States, Markets and Society“.  As part of the conference, the ICTD hosted a panel on the theme of taxation and fiscal contracts in Africa. The panellists were ICTD’s research directors Wilson Prichard and Giulia Mascagni, our Capacity Building Manager Jalia Kangave, and…

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