Addressing the Challenges of Taxation of the Digital Economy: Lessons for African Countries

Authors: Solomon Rukundo
Publisher: ICTD
Date: January 2020

Abstract:

Working Paper 105

The rapid growth of the digital economy in many African countries has led to concerns about whether their tax regimes are equipped to deal with this new phenomenon. The shift from a traditional bricks and mortar commercial environment to one that is electronic and information-based poses serious and substantial challenges to traditional tax regimes. African revenue authorities face the daunting task of protecting their revenue base without hindering either the development and use of new technologies or the involvement of the business community in the emerging e-market place. This paper examines legislative and policy approaches to taxing the digital economy adopted by different jurisdictions around the world and the lessons that African countries can draw from these experiences. The paper argues that African countries should participate in the multilateral discussions on the reform of international taxation needed to deal with the challenges of the digital economy. However, they must also acknowledge that their challenges are different from those of developed countries and therefore their final solutions will have to be uniquely African.