Pictured above: British Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel, Bill Gates and Richard Branson discuss the importance of investing in research at the Grand Challenges annual meeting in London.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UK Department for International Development have recently granted over £3 million in funding to the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) for research and capacity building that will help African governments raise tax revenue more effectively and equitably.

Tax systems in Africa face a number of challenges, including narrowly-based systems that over-tax some while barely touching others, limited capacity to tax the complex accounts of multinational corporations, the prevalence of informal taxation that is often coercive, and low levels of transparency and public trust in the formal tax system.

Strengthening domestic resource mobilisation is a target of the Sustainable Development Goals, as domestic revenues are a more stable and sustainable source of income, and also have the potential to strengthen the relationship between citizens and the state and foster accountable governance.

In order to achieve this,there is a pressing need for high quality research to inform the policies and administrative practices of African revenue agencies, as well as capacity building and public engagement to ensure that collection systems are fair, transparent, and efficient.

Based at the Institute of Development Studies, the ICTD has established itself as a leading, independent expert in the area of taxation and development.

The Centre’s CEO Mick Moore said, “The ICTD is uniquely placed to deliver this research programme, with excellent connections to people working on tax issues in Africa at national, regional and international levels, and an interdisciplinary team with backgrounds in economics, law, political science, and tax administration.”

Earlier this week, UK Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, launched the first-ever DFID Research Review at a conference where she spoke with Bill Gates and Richard Branson. The review highlighted the high impact of the ICTD’s research on taxpayer communications and compliance in Rwanda and on taxing high net worth individuals in Uganda.

The new DFID and Gates Foundation funding will enable the ICTD to:

  1. Produce and disseminate high quality, policy-oriented research on themes including tax compliance, tax and inequality, subnational taxation, and taxation in fragile and conflict-affected states
  2. Launch new research programs on tax and gender and subnational taxation, establishing the African Property Tax Initiative
  3. Help build the capacity of African researchers to produce quality work on taxation, and form two country tax research networks in Ethiopia and Nigeria

Image credit: T. Holden – DFID