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:

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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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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),…

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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…

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Tax in Development: Towards a Strategic Aid Approach
by Olav Lundstøl

Raising a higher share of the value added in an economy for the public purpose is associated with state building, modern economic growth and development. From 2002-3 to date, low- and lower-middle income countries raised total tax and non-tax revenue from 11-12 per cent and 18-19 per cent of GDP up to 17-18 per cent…

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February 2018
Taxing High Net Worth Individuals: Lessons from the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Experience
by Jalia Kangave, Susan Nakato, Ronald Waiswa, Milly. I. Nalukwago & Patrick Lumala Zzimbe

This brief examines the experience of Uganda in increasing tax compliance from wealthy individuals, compares its approach to that of other countries’ tax authorities, and draws lessons that they can learn from each other.

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January 2018
What Can We Learn from the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Approach to Taxing High Net Worth Individuals?
by Jalia Kangave, Susan Nakato, Ronald Waiswa, Milly Nalukwago & Patrick Lumala Zzimbe

This paper examines the experience of Uganda in increasing tax compliance from wealthy individuals, compares its approach to that of other countries’ tax authorities, and draws lessons that they can learn from each other.

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February 2017
Private Wealth and Public Revenue in Latin America: Business Power and Tax Politics
by Tasha Fairfield

Inequality and taxation are fundamental problems of modern times. How and when can democracies tax economic elites? This book develops a theoretical framework that refines and integrates the classic concepts of business’s instrumental (political) power and structural (investment) power to explain the scope and fate of tax initiatives targeting economic elites in Latin America after…

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Blogs:

March 2019
by Wilson Prichard

Recent years have seen surging international interest in strengthening tax collection in order to finance national development programs. Yet, despite evidence of high and frequently rising inequality across much of the developing world, strengthening the equity of tax systems has usually been low on the agenda. This in part reflects a technical debate: if the…

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February 2019
by Laura Rossouw

Cigarette sales in most African countries are going up all the time. But smoking rates are much lower than in high-income countries. Because of these comparatively lower smoking prevalence rates – combined with the urgent need to address infectious diseases – tobacco control policies have largely not been prioritised. Nigeria is a case in point. Preventing smoking rates…

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December 2018
by Mick Moore, Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Wilson Prichard

Over the past decade, international attention has increasingly focused on the potential contribution of taxation to improved development outcomes. In our recent book, Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development, we offer an overview of these issues and challenges in Africa.  A major objective of the book is to highlight major political questions about taxation in Africa,…

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Research Projects:

Current Project
Tobacco tax reform in West Africa
Project Researchers: Dr Laura Rossouw, ETCP, Prof Corné van Walbeek, ETCP, Dr Hana Ross, ETCP & Prof Abdoulaye Diagne, CRES

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…

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