Showing 1 - 12 of 21 publications
October 2021

To file or not to file? Another dimension of tax compliance – the Eswatini Taxpayers’ survey

by Fabrizio Santoro

Non-filing, the failure to submit a tax declaration, is a widespread phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa and produces detrimental fiscal effects, from impaired revenue mobilisation to inequality. Non-filing has been largely unexplored in the public finance literature, which focusses mostly on active filers. This paper sheds light on the determinants of non-filing, building on neoclassical and behavioural theories,…

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September 2021

Co-Financing Community-Driven Development Through Informal Taxation: Experimental Evidence from South-Central Somalia

by Vanessa van den Boogaard & Fabrizio Santoro

Community contributions are often required as part of community-driven development (CDD) programmes, with payment encouraged through matching grants. However, little remains known about the impact of matching grants, or the implications of requiring community contributions in order for communities to receive development funding. This paper describes research where we partner with two non-governmental organisations (NGOs)…

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The VAT in Practice: Equity, Enforcement and Complexity

by Giulia Mascagni, Roel Dom & Fabrizio Santoro

There are substantial differences in the spread of the pandemic and the policy response to it between high and low-income countries (LICs). In terms of case numbers, the pandemic has affected high and middle income countries (HICs and MICs) much more severely than LICs: deaths per million people have remained typically well below 1 in…

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March 2021

Explaining Informal Taxation and Revenue Generation: Evidence from south-central Somalia

by Vanessa van den Boogaard & Fabrizio Santoro

Most people in low-income countries contribute substantially to the financing of local public goods through informal revenue generation (IRG). However, very little is known about how IRG works in practice. We produce novel evidence on the magnitude and regressivity of IRG and its relationship with the state in a fragile context, Somalia. We rely on…

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January 2021

The VAT in Practice: Equity, Enforcement and Complexity

by Giulia Mascagni, Roel Dom & Fabrizio Santoro

The value added tax (VAT) is supposed to be a tax on consumption that achieves greater economic efficiency than alternative indirect taxes. It is also meant to facilitate enforcement through the ‘self-enforcing mechanism’ – based on opposed incentives for buyers and sellers, and because of the paper trail it creates. Being a rather sophisticated tax,…

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December 2020

To File or Not To File? Another Dimension of Non-Compliance: The Eswatini Taxpayer Survey

by Fabrizio Santoro, Edward Groening, Winnie Mdluli & Mbongeni Shongwe

Non-filing of income tax takes place when taxpayers fail to submit a tax declaration, despite being liable to do so, thus becoming ghosts in the eyes of tax authorities. It is a widespread phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Increasing evidence has been produced on non-filers in Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Nigeria. Eswatini is no…

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October 2020

How Best to Nudge Taxpayers? A Tailored Letter Experiment in Eswatini

by Fabrizio Santoro, Edward Groening, Winnie Mdluli & Mbongeni Shongwe

Tax collection in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) performs poorly, with a tax/GDP ratio of about 15% –this has severe repercussions for service delivery, growth and state-building. The ratio in high-income countries is 35%. Resource-constrained tax authorities in SSA are transitioning towards a new tax era, and implementing innovative compliance strategies such as ‘tax nudges’ – communication…

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October 2020

How to Best Nudge Taxpayers? The Impact of a Tailored Letter Experiment in Eswatini

by Fabrizio Santoro, Edward Groening, Winnie Mdluli & Mbongeni Shongwe

Very little is known about why taxpayers in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remit their taxes. In collaboration with the Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA), this study implements a nationwide randomised controlled trial nudging more than 20,000 income tax payers with behaviourally-informed mailings. This study attempts to shed new light on the drivers of SSA taxpayers’ compliance, and…

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Simulating the Impact of Covid-19 on Formal Firms in Eswatini

by Adrienne Lees, Giulia Mascagni & Fabrizio Santoro

Prior to Covid-19, Eswatini faced numerous developmental challenges with stagnating poverty and economic growth. Lockdown measures were introduced from 17 March, including schools closures, limitations on public and private gatherings, the suspension of non-essential travel within cities, and border closures. Economic activity has been damaged further by South Africa’s strict containment measures and the closure…

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Simulating the Impact of Covid-19 on Formal Firms in Rwanda

by Adrienne Lees, Giulia Mascagni & Fabrizio Santoro

Prior to Covid-19, Rwanda was booming, with economic growth exceeding ten percent in 2019. Strong growth has been accompanied by significant improvements across various human development indicators, such as poverty reduction and rising life expectancy. The pandemic has placed much of this progress in jeopardy. Exports and tourism have been hurt by border closures and…

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August 2020

To File or Not To File? Another Dimension of Non-Compliance: The Eswatini Taxpayer Survey

by Fabrizio Santoro, Edward Groening, Winnie Mdluli & Mbongeni Shongwe

Non-filing refers to taxpayers who fail to submit a tax declaration, thus becoming ghosts in the eyes of tax authorities. It is a widespread phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa, and has a number of detrimental fiscal effects. Non-filing has been largely unexplored in the literature, which focusses more on active filers. The overall aim of this…

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Active Ghosts: Nil-filing in Rwanda

by Giulia Mascagni, Fabrizio Santoro, Denis Mukama & Naphtal Hakizimana prepared by Adrienne Lees

Poor compliance is one of the key factors behind persistently low tax-to-GDP ratios in developing countries. Two dimensions of non-compliance that have been widely studied are under-reporting and non-filing (i.e. failing to submit a tax declaration altogether). However, there is a third and largely under-researched dimension of non-compliance: nil-filing. It refers to taxpayers who are…

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