The Journal of Development Studies Volume 50, Issue 10

This paper reviews the literature on taxation of the informal economy, taking stock of key debates and drawing attention to recent innovations. Conventionally, the debate on whether to tax has frequently focused on the limited revenue potential, high cost of collection, and potentially adverse impact on small firms. Recent arguments have increasingly emphasised the more indirect benefits of informal taxation in relation to economic growth, broader tax compliance, and governance. More research is needed, we argue, into the relevant costs and benefits for all, including quasi-voluntary compliance, political and administrative incentives for reform, and citizen-state bargaining over taxation.