Taxing Agricultural Income in the Global South: Revisiting Uganda’s National Debate

Authors: Graeme Stewart-Wilson & Ronald Waiswa
Publisher: ICTD
Date: June 2021

Abstract:

Research in Brief 70

The issue of agricultural taxation has almost completely disappeared from scholarly and policy agendas in recent decades. And, yet, agriculture continues to be taxed very lightly in much of the Global South – even though it contributes substantially to GDP. In some cases, light taxation of agriculture may be an intentional policy goal.

Evidence from Uganda, however, suggests there are a substantial number of agricultural suppliers earning high incomes in the sector that are either: (1) protected by current tax legislation, or (2) not compliant with their existing tax obligations. This paper reviews the early literature on taxing agricultural income, and discusses some reasons for its near-disappearance from the policy agenda. The paper then investigates attempts to tax agricultural income in Uganda. Uganda’s experience provides useful lessons for other Global South countries that may be considering revisiting the question of how best to tax agricultural income