Research in Brief 88

Many low-income countries are increasingly digitising their tax services, which can bring a range of benefits, from reducing compliance costs and improving record-keeping, to limiting opportunities for corruption and increasing fairness in the tax system. However, the success of these benefits depends on adequate levels of awareness and adoption of e-services among taxpayers; where these levels are suboptimal, tax e-services may produce only partial benefits.

This paper examines the extent of awareness and uptake of tax e-services in Rwanda from a pre-pandemic situation up to two years into the COVID-19 crisis. The country has increasingly digitalised its tax administration, even more so during the pandemic. Electronic filing and payment of taxes have been mandatory since 2015, and two different e-services are available: E-tax, a free web-based platform designed to be used on computers and smartphones, and M-declaration, a feature phone-based application which enables mobile money payments and a simpler process for filing a return. This allows us to run a comparative analysis of the two solutions. We apply a mixed methods approach, using a nationally representative panel survey of 2,000 corporate (CIT) and personal (PIT) income taxpayers, with baseline information collected pre-COVID-19 and four follow-up rounds carried out after the pandemic hit, and focus group discussions (FGDs) with 24 e-services users.


Kelbesa Megersa

Kelbesa Megersa holds a PhD in applied economics. He has an interest in broad areas of development research, with his main areas of expertise being in development finance, taxation, and private sector development in developing countries. Kelbesa has worked as a researcher at the Institute of Development Studies since 2019. Prior to that, Kelbesa worked as a doctoral and post-doctoral researcher linked to the Belgian Policy Research Group on Financing for Development at University of Namur. Kelbesa has years of policy research and consulting experience. He has provided research-based policy support for the development ministry of Belgium; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; and previously for the Department for International Development of the UK, among others.

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.

Adrienne Lees

Adrienne Lees is a Doctoral Fellow at ICTD, working primarily on projects relating to tax administration and compliance, and on the DIGITAX programme. She has completed an ODI Fellowship in the Tax Policy Department at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Uganda. Adrienne holds an MSc in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford and is completing her PhD in Economics at the University of Sussex.

Marco Carreras

Marco Carreras is an economist by training and works in development economics, focusing on development banks, agricultural economics, energy and corporate taxation. He is a post-doctoral fellow working on the DIGITAX team in the ICTD.

Theonille Mukamana

Theonille Mukamana is a Research and Policy Analyst at the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Naphtal Hakizimana

Naphtal Hakizimana is a Research and Policy Analyst at the Rwanda Revenue Authority.

Yves Nsengiyumva

Yves Nsengiyumva is a researcher and community engagement specialist working on socio-economic development initiatives in Rwanda. He's a management consultant and also the in-country analyst for Euromonitor International.
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