The ICTD is pleased to announce it has re-signed its long-standing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). 

Several members of the ICTD team including Research Director Giulia Mascagni, Programme Director James Murdoch and Communications and Impact Director Rhiannon McCluskey visited Kampala in late September to meet with the URA’s Commissioner General John Rujoki Musinguzi and members of his senior management team (pictured above). 

After working together for over seven years, the new MOU will enable the organisations to continue to conduct collaborative research, publish and disseminate the findings, and develop teaching and learning opportunities.

As Dr Mascagni said, “I really value this collaboration, both personally as a researcher and on behalf of the whole ICTD. It has shaped the kind research that we do and the ways in which we work. In fact, it was based on our experience of doing research with the URA that we jointly developed the principles that guide the ICTD’s approach to working with tax administrations across the continent to this day.”

A high-impact partnership

Over the last seven years, the ICTD and URA have collaborated on a number of groundbreaking research projects, including on taxing high net worth individuals and the impact of employing women in tax administration. The two organisations have also jointly investigated data management and integrity, with findings about the taxpayer register and taxpayer returns prompting numerous process improvements and wider strategy reassessment.

As Rhiannon McCluskey said, “The work we’ve done in partnership with the URA has been very exciting. The initiative they’ve taken to investigate key questions by looking rigorously at their data has opened up important debates, like like whether the rich are paying their fair share and on the representation of women in revenue authorities. It has also inspired similar studies in other countries, and brought concrete evidence to challenging areas in ways that have directly informed policies and shaped practical strategies in Uganda and beyond. I very much look forward to seeing what this next phase of collaboration will bring.”

Under the new MOU, key areas of future research collaboration include further work on taxing high net worth individuals, taxing the digital economy and e-commerce, improving the effectiveness of IT for tax compliance, and new work on environmental taxation. 

From left to right: Jalia Kangave, Ronald Waiswa, Giulia Mascagni, Tina Kaidu, and Allen Nassanga in the URA offices.

Elevating the role of research in tax administration

Allen Nassanga, the URA’s Head of Research, showed her support by visiting students and teaching facilitators during the final week of the ICTD’s annual Research on Tax and Development course, which was hosted at the URA’s training centre in Kamapala. The students are a varied group representing revenue administrations, civil society organisations and academic institutions from 12 countries including Malawi, Kenya, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania.

As Nassanga said, “Research helps us figure out: what can we do better? If we do good applied research, we can help solve important problems and impact the bottom line.” 

Participants in the ICTD’s Research on Tax and Development course at the final session held at the URA Training Centre.

It is the first time the ICTD has hosted a year-long course for participants from across the continent, after offering several short courses in the past, and piloting a longer programme with the URA and Rwanda Revenue Authority. The course is designed to help participants gain a strong understanding of the current tax and development research landscape, learn research methods, and develop their own research projects.

The course is comprised of a range of online and offline learning sessions throughout the year, including introductions to key themes in contemporary research on tax and governance, gender, informality and others. Participants are trained in research design and quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as project management and research dissemination. Each participant is also assigned a mentor from within the ICTD’s network to help in developing their research ideas and projects. 

Jacob Iormbagah from the University of Makurdi, Olivia Okello from the Kenya Revenue Authority, and Celeste Banze Filipe from Mozambique’s Ministry of Economy and Finance share reflections from participating in the course. 

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