Working Paper 143

Appropriately taxing the richest is a priority for every government, even more so in Africa, where higher revenue mobilisation is needed to fund growth. In Uganda, the revenue authority launched a specific unit to monitor the tax affairs of the richest individuals. Thanks to a close collaboration with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), we evaluate the impact of such policy on a range of tax filing and payment outcomes of targeted taxpayers, as gathered from a wealth of administrative data. We show that the policy only has been partially successful. While it increased the probability of filing, especially by politically relevant taxpayers, it produced a seemingly small response in which treated taxpayers would declare less on different margins, with the end result of not declaring more tax liabilities. On the tax payment side, only a small yet significant impact on tax collected is measured. In parallel, we show a strong compensating response across tax heads. Importantly, we also measure the spillover effect on companies associated with the richest taxpayers, again documenting complex compensating reactions. We inform future policymaking decisions, suggesting a higher simultaneous focus on different tax heads and a more holistic approach to monitoring both individual and corporate tax accounts.


Fabrizio Santoro

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.

Ronald Waiswa

Ronald Waiswa is a Research and Policy Analysis Supervisor at the Uganda Revenue Authority. He has collaborated with the ICTD on a number of research projects in Uganda on issues including taxing wealthy individuals and public sector agencies.