Showing 1 - 12 of 59 publications

No smoking gun: tobacco taxation and smuggling in Sierra Leone

by Giovanni Occhiali & Max Gallien

Objective To evaluate the common industry claim that higher tobacco taxation leads to higher levels of smuggling, particularly in a limited state capacity setting. Design This paper evaluates the effects of a tobacco tax increase in Sierra Leone on smuggling by using gap analyses. Its models are based on multiple rounds of the Demographic and…

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Tax obsessions: Taxpayer registration and the informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa

by Mick Moore

Motivation There are three puzzling features of sub-Saharan African tax systems: tax administrations maintain records on vast numbers of small enterprises that actually provide no revenue; they continually invest resources into registering even more of these “unproductive taxpayers”; and discussions about taxing small enterprises are framed by the ambiguous, misleading concept of the “informal sector”….

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Developing influence: the power of ‘the rest’ in global tax governance

by Martin Hearson, Rasmus Corlin Christensen & Tovony Randriamanalina

As Western-led institutions of global governance adapt to global power shifts, the question of which countries dominate, and how, increasingly animates scholarship. Yet while attention has shifted from ‘Great’ to ‘Rising’ Powers, the underlying focus on market power has changed little. In this article, we shift the focus to alternative forms of power that developing…

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April 2022

The Economic Impact of the Pandemic in Rwanda: An Analysis of Firm-Level VAT Data

by Giulia Mascagni & Adrienne Lees

There are substantial differences in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and policy responses to it between high- and low-income countries. While evidence on the former is growing, there remain more unanswered questions on the latter. This paper addresses this gap by providing insights on the impact of the pandemic in Rwanda, based on firm-level…

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April 2022

Grounding ActionAid’s Tax Justice Campaigns in Nigeria

by Ma Josep Cascant-Sempere

Integrating the demands raised by those most affected by poverty into international campaigns is important for safeguarding ethical integrity and encouraging mobilization. This article examines the case of the international non-governmental organization (INGO) ActionAid, which managed, although not without challenges, to integrate the tax complaints of market traders — such as multiple taxation — into…

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April 2022

Active Ghosts: Nil-filing in Rwanda

by Giulia Mascagni, Fabrizio Santoro, Denis Mukama, John Karangwa & Napthal Hakizimana

Nil-filing refers to taxpayers who report zero on all fields of their tax declaration. It is a largely ignored phenomenon in the tax literature, despite being well known to tax administrators. There is almost no evidence on the characteristics of nil-filers and the reasons for their apparently puzzling behaviour. This paper sheds light on this…

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March 2022

Co-financing community-driven development through informal taxation: Evidence from south-central Somalia

by Vanessa van den Boogaard & Fabrizio Santoro

Community contributions are often required as part of community-driven development programs, with contributions encouraged through matching grants. However, little remains known about the impact of matching grants or the implications of requiring community contributions—also known as informal taxation. We explore this research gap through a randomized control trial of a matching grant program in Gedo…

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January 2022

The Rise of China and Contestation in Global Tax Governance

by Martin Hearson & Rasmus Corlin Christensen

This paper examines the relationship between China’s changing economy and its global business tax diplomacy. Three trends dominate: China is becoming a net capital exporter, emerging as a major consumer market, and is home to digital giant firms including Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba. The resulting drive to promote both ‘going out’ and ‘bringing in’ foreign…

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January 2022

Enabling Tax Bargaining: Supporting More Meaningful Tax Transparency and Taxpayer Engagement in Ghana and Sierra Leone

by Vanessa van den Boogaard, Wilson Prichard, Rachel Beach & Fariya Mohiuddin

While there is increasing evidence that taxation can contribute to greater government responsiveness and accountability, such positive outcomes are not guaranteed. If the environment does not enable tax bargaining, there is a risk that taxation will amount to little more than enforced extraction. We consider how such enabling environments may be fostered and identify specific…

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December 2021

The Politics of Taxing Multinational Firms in a Digital Age

by Martin Hearson & Margarita Gelepithis

Taxing multinationals is politically difficult because of the structural power of mobile firms within the global economy, and this structural power is expected to increase in the digital age. Recently however there has been a breakdown in the international corporate tax consensus that structured tax competition over the past century. A new norm of international…

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December 2021

Tax Compliance in Rwanda: Evidence from a Message Field Experiment

by Giulia Mascagni & Christopher Nell

In early 2016 the Rwanda Revenue Authority sent messages to 9,000 taxpayers, aimed to encourage compliance. Each taxpayer was randomly allocated to a treatment group, or to a control group that received no message. Treatment messages varied in terms of content (deterrence, fiscal exchange, reminder) and delivery method (letter, email, SMS). Our RCT evaluates the…

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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 focuses mostly on active filers. This paper sheds light on the determinants of non-filing, building on neoclassical and behavioural theories,…

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