New digital technologies are now being widely used in Africa and lower-income countries (LICs). This has had an impact on tax administration, which has been increasingly digitised. Specifically Digital Financial Services (DFS) and digital IDs can improve tax administration. They have the potential to identify taxpayers more easily, communicate with them better, enforce and monitor compliance, and reduce compliance costs.
While the potential is clear, existing literature indicates some of the barriers. Take-up of digital technology is still low due to barriers. Also, when taking up the technology, taxpayers often tend to adopt various measures to minimise tax payments. Within tax administrations there are challenges to accessibility and use of quality data. Mistakes can be made when launching digitisation, and there are regulatory and political barriers for effective use of digital technology.
Given this context, this paper summarises key questions that are relevant for research and policy development to make more effective use of digital technology in tax administration in Africa and LICs.
Fabrizio is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and the Research Lead for the second component of the ICTD's DIGITAX Research Programme. His main research interests relate to governance, public finance, and taxation, with a strong focus on impact evaluation methodologies and statistical analysis. He holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex.
Wilson Prichard is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Tax and Development. His research focuses on the relationship between taxation and citizen demands for improved governance in sub-Saharan Africa.
Giulia Mascagni is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Research Director of the ICTD. Her main area of work is taxation, but she also has research interest in public finance, evaluation of public policy, and aid effectiveness. She is an economist by training, holding a PhD in Economics from the University of Sussex. Her main geographical interest lies in African countries, with a particular focus on Ethiopia and Rwanda.