Journal of Development Studies
The pandemic has had significant fiscal implications around the world. A key question facing governments is how the pandemic has shaped taxpayer attitudes and what that means for the prospects for tax reform and new revenue raising. We aim to understand the impacts of the pandemic on attitudes toward taxation in Sierra Leone with novel survey data, collected before the pandemic, shortly after the pandemic’s onset, and for almost a year afterwards. Four key findings emerge. First, immediately after the crisis onset we see increased support for taxation in Freetown, despite escalating economic challenges. Second, at the same time that taxpayers show greater general support for taxation they become more likely to believe that one could refuse to pay taxes if government fails to deliver services in return. Third, while we lack baseline data on support for progressive taxation, we find rising and sustained support for it over the course of the pandemic. Finally, although we see an initial increase in willingness to pay more taxes for services, that support erodes over time. These findings have significant implications for understanding both immediate responses to the pandemic, and the broader politics of taxation and tax reform.