Project Researchers: Max Gallien, Vanessa van den Boogaard, Umair Javed & Soukayna Remmal

This research project supports data collection on shifting informal tax obligations and perceptions of tax obligations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. It is exploring zakat contributions and perceptions of zakat and tax obligations in three case studies across South Asia and North Africa—Pakistan, Morocco, and Egypt. The research project focuses on the period which both directly follows Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr, when a range of zakat payments occur and are publicly encouraged, and when discussion around funding Covid-19 relief are still prevalent. Through this comparative study, the project seeks to explore questions around three central issues. First, we aim to better understand how the fiscal burden of the Covid-19 pandemic response is distributed in Muslim-majority countries. Second, we seek to better understand the conceptual relationship between zakat and formal taxation. Third, the current crisis provides us with unique insights into how the perception of zakat in different Muslim majority countries is also influenced by the degree to which zakat is managed by states vis-a-vis non-state actors. In order to explore these questions, the project draws on a comparative set-up between three countries with varying relationships between zakat and the state and involves a phone-based survey of nationally-representative samples.