Tax, Welfare and Inequality

Image credit: © Johnny Miller, Goya Bauwens

Tax policy and tax administration can have a big impact on who does or does not pay their fair share, on economic incentives, and thus on levels of poverty and the distribution of income and welfare. Research under this theme focuses on developing a better understanding, in specific contexts, of the complex economic and political linkages between how governments tax, how their national economies perform, and how well their citizens live. Some of our specific concerns are: the taxation of high net worth individuals; efficient business taxation; and the taxation of socially-harmful activities like smoking tobacco.

Publications:

May 2020
De-Linking Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade in Africa
by Max Gallien

Smoking tobacco has been much less common traditionally in Africa than in Europe or North America. But this is changing. As Africa has become a growth market for the tobacco industry, adverse health effects are increasingly visible. While increasing tobacco taxation has been shown as the most effective policy tool in curbing tobacco consumption, many…

Read more
July 2019
The Economics of Tobacco Control in Nigeria: Modelling the Fiscal and Health Effects of a Tobacco Excise Tax Change
by Precious C. Akanonu, Joseph Ishaku & Chukwuka Onyekwena

This paper examines the potential for changes in the tobacco tax to contribute to raising government revenues, reducing tobacco use, and improving public health in Nigeria. Specifically, it estimates the impact of a change in the excise tax structure and level on cigarette consumption, government revenue, smoking prevalence, net-of-tax (NOT) revenue, and the excise tax…

Read more
Tax, Politics, and the Social Contract in Africa
by Wilson Prichard

Though traditionally thought of as the preserve of technical experts—lawyers, economists and accountants—the study of taxation has recently attracted growing attention, with mounting recognition that taxation is fundamentally political, and lies near the core of the relationship between states and citizens. The first, and most common, question about the politics of taxation is: what are…

Read more
Improving Tax and Development Outcomes: What Next for Civil Society Engagement?
by Wilson Prichard

Recent years have seen a dramatic surge in international attention to the importance of revenue raising in developing countries, spurred by: (a) the need for revenues to fund investments critical to the achievement of the sustainable development goals, (b) growing concern with increasing inequality, and (c) the possibility that expanded taxation may offer a platform…

Read more
September 2018
Revenue Sharing in Mining in Africa: Empirical Proxies and Determinants of Government Take
by Olav Lundstøl

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working paper 81 by Olav Lundstøl. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. The paper examines the resource rent literature and findit a complicated basis for assessing revenue…

Read more
September 2018
Tax in Development – Towards a Strategic Aid Approach
by Olav Lundstøl

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working paper 77 by Olav Lundstøl. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time.  The paper represents a step in the direction of thinking systematically about tax related aid efforts from…

Read more
June 2018
Revenue Sharing in Mining in Africa: Empirical Proxies and Determinants of Government Take
by Olav Lundstøl

Revenues from mining constitute a significant development opportunity, particularly in income-poor but resource-rich countries in Africa. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the extent to which such countries have benefitted from the recent global mineral boom from 2003-2013. This paper finds existing approaches to testing rent theory to be a complicated basis for the assessment…

Read more
June 2018
What Might an Agenda for Equitable Taxation Look Like?
by Wilson Prichard

The notion of tax equity raises difficult questions. There is no single right definition of the term, and it is very hard to measure precisely the distributional effects of taxation and fiscal activities, especially in low-income countries. This brief seeks to clarify definitions, evidence and points of potential disagreement when it comes to tax equity, and puts forward eight key elements of a potential agenda for equitable taxation.

Read more
Integrating Tax Challenges of Local Market Traders in International Tax Justice Campaigns
by Kas Sempere

This research in brief is a summary of ICTD Working Paper 80 by Kas Sempere. In the broad sense, ‘tax justice’ explores pro-poor and redistributive tax systems able to reduce inequality. It involves a transparent process of pro-poor collection (those who have less, pay less) and pro-poor expenditure (those who have less, receive more), for…

Read more
Tax Unrest Among Market Traders: The Local Side of ActionAid’s International Tax Justice Campaign in Nigeria
by Kas Sempere

Tax justice has become a popular concept, and a number of international tax justice campaigns have exposed aspects such as the unfairness of tax havens and harmful tax breaks. Yet, the idea of tax justice at the local level is less well-known. The impact of campaigns to end tax havens and harmful tax competition may…

Read more

Blogs:

May 2020
by Mick Moore & Wilson Prichard

Globally, tax collections are declining. Governments have cancelled or postponed some tax dues in the effort to bolster economies and keep enterprises solvent. With employment, trade and profits nevertheless shrinking, opportunities to collect income and profit taxes, VAT, and excise and import duties are also dwindling. For the next two years at least, many governments…

Read more
April 2020
by Wilson Prichard

So far, policy discussions about tax responses to Covid-19 have focused overwhelmingly on how to offer immediate tax relief. There is a clear sequence in these discussions: tax relief today, expanded revenue collection in the future to compensate. This blog explores a less conventional argument: that African governments may want to think much more immediately…

Read more
April 2020
by Max Gallien & Vanessa van den Boogaard

ICTD Informality and Taxation blog series The ICTD’s Informality and Tax programme seeks to conduct, connect, and support novel research around the relationship between tax and informality. To introduce some of the central areas of research in this area and highlight relevant questions for policymakers and academics alike, we will accompany our work with a…

Read more

Research Projects:

Current Project
Tobacco tax reform in West Africa
Project Researchers: Prof Corné van Walbeek, REEP, Dr Hana Ross, REEP, Prof Abdoulaye Diagne, CRES, Dr Pape Yona Mané, CRES & Kisten van der Zee, REEP

Purpose Africa is vulnerable to the tobacco industry. It has a large and young population, rapid economic growth, a desire to attract foreign investment, and weak tobacco control policies. Although smoking prevalence in many African countries is modest, preventing its rise, especially amongst youth, remains a huge challenge. Policymakers are often unaware of the win-win…

Read more
Current Project
The fiscal and public health impact of a change in tobacco excise taxes in Ghana
Project Researchers: Ama Fenny, University of Ghana, Felix Asante, Aba Crentsil & Christian Osei

This study will provide evidence-based analysis of tobacco taxation in Ghana. The main research theme addressed will be to assess best practices in tobacco taxation centering on the impact of tobacco tax increases on the retail price of tobacco products, tobacco consumption and government tax revenue. We hypothesize that this will provide the evidence needed…

Read more
Current Project
Estimating the Impact of Tax or Price Measures on Tobacco Smoking Onset and Cessation
Project Researchers: Precious Akanonu

This study seeks to contribute to the scant literature on the impact of prices on smoking onset and cessation in LMICs by investigating the following research questions, with a focus on Nigeria: What is the impact of cigarette prices on smoking onset? What is the impact of cigarette prices on smoking cessation? The study is…

Read more