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.


Max Gallien

Max Gallien is a Research Fellow at the ICTD. His research specialises in the politics of informal and illegal economies, the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa and development politics. He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics. Max co-leads the informality and taxation programme with Vanessa, as well as the ICTD’s capacity building programme.

Vanessa van den Boogaard

Vanessa van den Boogaard is a Research Fellow at the ICTD and a Senior Research Associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. She completed her PhD thesis on informal revenue generation and statebuilding in Sierra Leone, and has ongoing research on the topic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Vanessa leads the ICTD’s new programme on civil society engagement in tax reform and co-leads the research programme on informal taxation.

Umair Javed

Dr. Umair Javed is an Assistant Professor at the Mushtaq Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He completed his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in 2018, where he was a recipient of the LSE Centennial PhD Studentship. His doctoral research focused on politics and practices of accumulation, and labour relations in Pakistan's informal economy, with a specific focus on the retail-wholesale (bazaar) sector. More broadly, his research interests span various aspects of political participation, socio-economic development, and urban public life in South Asia.

Soukayna Remmal

Soukayna Remmal is a research and communications officer at ICTD working on informal taxation and taxing the informal economy. She holds a Master in Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and a Master of Global Affairs from the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.