Journal of International Development

While there has been increasing policy attention on broadening tax bases in low-income countries, taxing citizens in rural areas often leads to neither revenue gains nor stronger accountability outcomes. Through case studies of Sierra Leone and Togo, we demonstrate that revenue collection in rural areas is highly inefficient, leading to little, if any, revenue gains after factoring in collection costs. Accordingly, we question the existing rationales for extending taxation to rural citizens in low-income countries. Instead, we argue for a rethinking of the role of taxation in rural areas, considering the nature of social contracts and limited fiscal reciprocity.


Vanessa van den Boogaard

Vanessa van den Boogaard is a Research Fellow at the ICTD and a Senior Research Associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. She completed her PhD thesis on informal revenue generation and statebuilding in Sierra Leone, and has ongoing research on the topic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Vanessa leads the ICTD’s new programme on civil society engagement in tax reform and co-leads the research programme on informal taxation.

Rachel Beach

Regional Programme Specialist for the Arab States for UNDP Tax for SDGs and TIWB (Tax Inspectors Without Borders)
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