Tax Administration and Compliance

Image credit: © Uganda Revenue Authority, Vanessa van den Boogaard

Many of the challenges low-income countries face in mobilising domestic resources are related to tax administration as much as tax policy. Our research on this theme encompasses all aspects of tax administration, from technology adoption, to data management and strategies for collecting revenue from different types of taxpayers. Tax compliance is a key focus, as low-income countries struggle with widespread evasion, corruption, and limited administrative capacity. Our research on compliance includes survey-based studies of taxpayers’ perceptions and attitudes, case studies, and large-scale field experiments.

Publications:

A Contrast of Uganda and Georgia’s Tax Administration Reforms: Lessons from Georgia’s Experience
by Margaret Magumba

Tax revenue administration in Uganda went through a series of reforms from 1991–2014, with the height of these reforms occurring from 2004–2014. These reforms achieved a lot of improvement in the quality of tax administrators’ service delivery, tax compliance and revenue collection. However, in contrast with some other countries that implemented somewhat similar reforms, the…

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Tax Administration Reforms: Lessons from Georgia and Uganda
by Margaret Magumba

Several tax revenue administrations have implemented significant reforms along their journeys with the aim of attaining higher tax revenue collections, improved taxpayer compliance and more efficient service delivery. The results defer from country to country depending on the nature of the reforms implemented and the circumstances surrounding them. This paper analyses and contrasts the tax…

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April 2019
Where the Gap Lay: Presumptive Income Tax Assessment for Small and Micro Enterprises in Addis Ababa City Administration
by Amanuel Mekonnen Workneh & Endalkachew Mulugeta Baileyegn with Graeme Stewart-Wilson

This study is focused on the presumptive tax reassessment of small and micro enterprises (SMEs) in Addis Ababa City Administration that took place in 2017. The reassessment process was based on average daily revenue estimates calculated by teams of assessors and validated by a series of committees. The release of the reassessment results in 2017…

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An Analysis of Discrepancies in Taxpayers’ VAT Declarations in Rwanda
by Giulia Mascagni, Denis Mukama & Fabrizio Santoro

In recent years, one of the most important developments in African tax administration has been the widespread adoption of value added tax (VAT). A key feature of VAT is its self-enforcement mechanism, which incentivises buyers to request a receipt and claim refunds on VAT paid. This should in principle go against the seller’s incentive to…

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March 2019
An Analysis of Discrepancies in Taxpayers’ VAT Declarations in Rwanda
by Giulia Mascagni, Denis Mukama & Fabrizio Santoro

This report provides a descriptive analysis of discrepancies resulting from matching different value added tax (VAT) data sources in the Rwanda Revenue Authority database. VAT returns are declared by businesses of all sizes and types, from companies to individual traders. Internal discrepancy is the gap between different data sources, namely VAT declaration and VAT annexes,…

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Teach to Comply? Evidence from a Taxpayer Education Programme in Rwanda
by Giulia Mascagni, Fabrizio Santoro & Denis Mukama

African revenue authorities developed a growing interest in tax education as a key driver of compliance and in the context of a modern approach to tax administration (Mascagni and Santoro, 2018). Indeed, poor tax knowledge has a number of potentially serious implications. Firstly, it is likely to affect compliance. On the one hand, uninformed taxpayers…

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February 2019
Teach to Comply? Evidence from a Taxpayer Education Programme in Rwanda
by Giulia Mascagni, Fabrizio Santoro & Denis Mukama

The role of taxpayer education in improving tax compliance has been largely unexplored in the literature. This paper starts to fill this gap by providing the first rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of taxpayer education on knowledge, perceptions, and compliance, which took place in Rwanda. Our analysis is based on a unique dataset that combines…

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December 2018
Taxing Government: The Case of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Public Sector Office
by Henry Saka, Ronald Waiswa & Jalia Kangave

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working paper 84 by Henry Saka, Ronald Waiswa and Jalia Kangave. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. In the past three decades, revenue authorities in African countries…

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October 2018
Taxing Government: The Case of the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Public Sector Office
by Henry Saka , Ronald Waiswa & Jalia Kangave

Virtually all the literature on taxation presents it as a relationship between government and non-government taxpayers. And even though in practice government organisations are – or should be – big taxpayers, very few revenue authorities treat these organisations as a separate segment of taxpayers. Different categories of taxpayers behave differently and so need to be…

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October 2018
The Customer is King: Evidence on VAT Compliance in Tanzania
by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Cecilia Kagoma, Ephraim Mdee, Ingrid Hoem Sjursen & Vincent Somville

Like governments in many other African countries, the Government of Tanzania has been striving to improve the effectiveness of its value added tax (VAT) regime by reducing tax evasion through a combination of measures, including improved tax legislation and more effective administrative processes. A key initiative was the introduction of Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs) in…

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Blogs:

March 2019
by Neil McCulloch & Tom Moerenhout

Nigeria’s performance on collected taxes is poor. Non-oil revenue in the country is around 3-4 percent of GDP, far below countries such as South Africa and Brazil where non-oil revenues lie between 20 and 25 percent of their GDP – or other peers in sub-Saharan Africa who typically collect more than 10 percent of GDP…

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March 2019
by Fred Andema, Nyah Zebong & Robert Raikes Mugangaizi

Local governments (LGs) across Uganda have recently been looking for ways to improve yields from their property tax systems. The main reasons for this growing interest are the rapid urbanisation taking place in the country, and the increased pressure from city dwellers for public services. Some property tax reforms have shown success in identification, valuation…

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February 2019
by Anne Brockmeyer, Marco Hernandez, Spencer Smith & Stewart Kettle

Many firms around the world fail to file their tax declarations, even if they are formally registered. This problem is particularly prevalent in low- and middle-income countries. In many such countries, over half of tax-registered firms do not file their tax declaration, and the maximum non-filing rates reaches over 90% in some countries (Figure 1)….

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Research Projects:

Past Project
Where the Gap Lay: Presumptive Income Tax Assessment for Micro and Small Enterprises, A Case for Addis Ababa City Administration
Project Researchers: Amanuel Mekonnen, Addis Ababa University & Endalkachew Mulugeta, Addis Ababa University

The study focuses on assessment of presumptive taxation of small and micro enterprise in Addis Ababa City Administration. It will evaluate the standard assessment processes and procedures, the criteria used for assessment, and the equity of taxes imposed by the tax authority. Data will be collected through surveys and interviews.

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Past Project
Perceptions of Value Added Tax Compliance in Ethiopia: Filing and Invoicing
Project Researchers: Gebregziabher G. Tsadik, Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), Assefa Gezae, Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) & Worku Tamire, Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA)

VAT, as a consumption tax, can contribute huge amount of tax revenue. But it does not play this role in generating tax revenue in Ethiopia because of low VAT compliance. This can be due to inadequate commitment and capability of tax officials, weak enforcement, low awareness of tax payers, limited application of laws and complex…

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Past Project
Practices, challenges and prospects of public sector taxation in Ethiopia
Project Researchers: Sebsbie Fekade , Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA), Asnakech Lake , Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) & Ronald Waiswa, Uganda Revenue Authority

Ethiopia’s revenue collection performance remains low at 12.5% of GDP compared to the average for sub-Saharan Africa (17%). This is partly attributable to the failure of government entities to support tax administration. The public sector is vital in terms of withholding VAT payments and income taxes. However, these institutions experience little pressure from the tax administration…

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Past Project
An Assessment of ERCA’s Taxpayer Education Programs and How They Can be Improved
Project Researchers: Azime A. Hassen, Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA)

This study aims to evaluate the taxpayer education programs used to aware and educate on the tax knowledge. It may be difficult to shift tax culture without education at an early age or without citizens voluntarily embracing tax payment. So we would like to examine the content and design of mass media in the TV,…

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Past Project
The Implementation of Presumptive Tax in Ethiopia
Project Researchers: Abis Getachew, Ethiopian Development Research Institute

This study is highly motivated by the recently adjusted rate of the daily presumed income on businesses is the cause of the dispute between the business community and the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA). The main goal of introducing the presumptive tax system is to provide tax payers with equitable, efficient, quality services and bringing…

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Past Project
Ethiopia’s Double Taxation Avoidance Treaties: A Quest for Policy Guide
Project Researchers: Tesafay Assefa

Ethiopia has undertaken various economic and foreign relations policy reforms especially after the country’s economic shift towards free market economic system since 1991. As part of such multidimensional reforms, the country has undertaken serious of tax reforms especially since 2002. This project aims at examining the policy back up of double taxation treaties in Ethiopia….

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Past Project
The Role that ICT can Play in Improving Property Tax Collection in Africa: Three Case Studies
Project Researchers: Prof Riël Franzsen, African Tax Institute, Prof William McCluskey, African Tax Institute, Dr Mundia Kabinga, University of Cape Town & Chabala Kasese, Zambia Revenue Authority

Africa is rapidly urbanizing. The number of large African cities with populations between 5 and 10 million is also expected to increase, from three to twelve by 2030 (United Nations 2014). However, the fastest-growing urban agglomerations are medium-sized cities and cities with less than 1 million inhabitants. Durand-Lasserve (2016) provides startling projections regarding urbanization stating that between 2015 and 2050 (i.e., in only 36 years) urbanization in Africa will grow from 38 percent to 55 percent, implying an additional 790 million urban inhabitants.

Project Outputs

Working Paper
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Past Project
Bridging the gap between tax avoidance and compliance: can the framing of tax as a responsible business practice help?
Project Researchers: Bongo Adi, Lagos Business School, Kenneth Amaeshi, University of Edinburgh & Godson Ikiebey, ESG Advisory

Why do firms engage in aggressive corporate tax planning and tax avoidance? (How) can self-regulation, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), complement public regulation in minimising the negative impacts of aggressive corporate tax planning and tax avoidance on government tax revenues? These questions bring to the fore the tension between tax illegitimacy and legality, which can…

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Past Project
Small Businesses and the Adoption of the Integrated Tax Administration System in Nigeria
Project Researchers: Efobi Uchenna, Covenant University, Beecroft Ibukun, Covenant University & Belmondo Tanankem, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development

In 2017 the Federal Inland Revenue Service (henceforth, FIRS) introduced the Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) with the aim of improving ease of doing business with FIRS, enhancing voluntary compliance and boosting revenue generation. Knowing that the Nigerian private sector has had history of low adoption of technologies like the mobile money service introduced by…

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