Taxation

Work on taxation at IDS is primarily led by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), a global policy research network, devoted to improving the quality of tax policy and administration in developing countries, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

A tax sign in Sierra Leone. Credit: Vanessa van den Boogaard

The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) is led by Professor Mick Moore and funded by the UK Department for International Development and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Key areas of research on tax and development

Why should we tax Africa?

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Image credit: Vanessa van den Boogaard

Experimental research on tax compliance in Rwanda

This project conducted a set of large-scale field experiments in Rwanda aiming to understand the determinants of tax compliance. More details

REDD+ and Forest Taxation in sub-Saharan Africa

This research project will map the channels through which REDD+ could impact upon different forest tax systems in sub-Saharan Africa, and develop proposals to increase the probability that these impacts will be positive. More details

UNU-WIDER Symposium on Taxation & Revenue Mobilisation in Developing Countries consultancy

Bruno Martorano will be conducting research on the topic of ‘Tax Changes and Inequality in Latin America, 1990-2010’ More details

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This is the front cover of ICTD Working Paper 82, Can ICTs Increase Tax? Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia

Can ICTs Increase Tax? Experimental Evidence from Ethiopia

ICTD Working Paper 82 (2018)

The widespread introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digitalised data management systems is one of the most important developments among African tax administrations in recent years. However, very little evidence is available on their effectiveness in practice, and how taxpayers respond to these changes. This paper starts filling this gap by reporting three sets of results from Ethiopia. More details

This is the cover to the book: Taxing Africa Coercion, Reform and Development.

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development

Taxation has been seen as the domain of charisma-free accountants, lawyers and number crunchers – an unlikely place to encounter big societal questions about democracy, equity or good governance. More details

Tax reform for low income countries

Tax Reform for Low Income Countries: Five Ideas for Simplifying Tax Systems to Fit Local Realities

ICTD Research in Brief 17 (2018)

There is no silver bullet to strengthen the tax systems of low-income countries. Dramatic changes in tax systems and tax collection are rare. Successful improvements more often involve a great deal of hard and steady work, and the gradual construction of popular trust and (grudging) support for reform. There remains, however, space for ‘organising ideas’ that can help identify potentially underexplored and underexploited opportunities for reform. More details

Non-IDS publication

Chapter 3: The Historical Evolution of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting

This is Chapter 3 of the book “Taxing Multinational Business in Lower-Income Countries: More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Research in Brief 19, Integrating Tax Challenges of Local Market Traders in International Tax Justice Campaigns

Integrating Tax Challenges of Local Market Traders in International Tax Justice Campaigns

ICTD Research in Brief 19 (2018)

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 instance, through public services. Tax justice has become a popular concept at the international and national levels. For instance, reports and campaigns have exposed the unfairness of tax havens and harmful tax breaks. Yet, the idea of tax justice at the local level is less known and more needs to be done to unpack it. More details

Non-IDS publication

The OECD’s BEPS Project and Lower-Income Countries

In reviewing the OECD’s BEPS process as it relates to lower-income countries, it may be useful to begin with a question about global tax institutions: More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Working Paper 81, Revenue Sharing in Mining in Africa : Empirical Proxies and Determinants of Government Take

Revenue Sharing in Mining in Africa: Empirical Proxies and Determinants of Government Take

ICTD Working Paper 81 (2018)

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 of resource revenue sharing between government and companies. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Working Paper 80, Tax Unrest Among Market Traders : The Local Side of ActionAid´s International Tax Justice Campaign in Nigeria

Tax Unrest Among Market Traders : The Local Side of ActionAid´s International Tax Justice Campaign in Nigeria

ICTD Working Paper 80 (2018)

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 seem far from the lives and day-to-day tax struggles of many people living in poverty, including market traders in the informal sector. ActionAid, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), managed, not without challenges, to integrate tax claims of market traders – such as multiple taxation – into its international tax justice campaign in Nigeria. More details

This is the front cover for Working Paper 78, Regulatory Burdens in Tax Administration and Firms’ Compliance Costs in Africa

Regulatory Burdens in Tax Administration and Firms’ Compliance Costs in Africa

ICTD Working Paper 78 (2018)

This paper examines the effect of regulatory burdens related to tax administration on firms’ compliance costs in Africa. Using cross-country firm-level data, the results show that regulatory burdens related to tax administration significantly increase firms’ compliance costs compared to burdens related to other kinds of government regulations. More details

This is the front cover for Working Paper 79, What Explains the Recent Calls for Reinstatement of a Tax Considered Unpopular? An Analysis of Graduated Tax in Uganda

What Explains the Recent Calls for Reinstatement of a Tax Considered Unpopular? An Analysis of Graduated Tax in Uganda

ICTD Working Paper 79 (2018)

Successful decentralisation relies heavily on the ability of subnational government to generate its own revenue. In many African countries, subnational government is authorised to collect a variety of taxes and user fees including trade licensing taxes, property taxes, market fees, garbage collection fees and road user fees. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 15, Linking Beneficial Ownership Transparency to Improved Tax Revenue Collection in Developing Countries

Linking Beneficial Ownership Transparency to Improved Tax Revenue Collection in Developing Countries

ICTD Summary Brief 15 (2018)

Recent years have witnessed an accelerating push to expand access to information on the beneficial ownership of corporate entities, in an effort to bring greater transparency to multinational corporation (MNC) tax strategies, identify personal tax-evading wealth held overseas and combat global networks of criminality and corruption. This effort remains in its infancy, but has made important strides: the G20 has called for all countries to develop and share registers of beneficial ownership, and various jurisdictions have begun to do so. More details

This is the front cover for Working Paper 79, What Explains the Recent Calls for Reinstatement of a Tax Considered Unpopular? An Analysis of Graduated Tax in Uganda

What Explains the Recent Calls for Reinstatement of a Tax Considered Unpopular? An Analysis of Graduated Tax in Uganda

ICTD Working Paper 79 (2018)

Successful decentralisation relies heavily on the ability of subnational government to generate its own revenue. In many African countries, subnational government is authorised to collect a variety of taxes and user fees including trade licensing taxes, property taxes, market fees, garbage collection fees and road user fees. With the exception of property taxes, which have the potential to generate significant revenue, most other taxes collectively fund a very small proportion of subnational government budgets. Until recently, one of the main sources of own revenue for subnational government in Uganda was a poll tax known as graduated tax. More details

Non-IDS publication

Chapter 2: Poverty, Tax Competition, and Base Erosion

This is Chapter 2 of the book “Taxing Multinational Business in Lower-Income Countries: More details

This is the cover of the ICTD UNU Wider Publication titled Tax Revenue Mobilization in Conflict affected Developing Countries by Vanessa van den Boogaard, Wilson Prichard, Matthew S. Benson and Nikola Milicic.

Tax Revenue Mobilization in Conflict affected Developing Countries

Journal of International Development (2018)

How does conflict affect tax revenue mobilization? This paper uses a newly updated dataset to explore longitudinal trends of tax revenue mobilization prior to, during and after conflict periods in a selection of conflict affected states since 1980. This medium N trend analysis provides greater insight into the relationship between tax revenue performance over time and the characteristics of the conflicts in question. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Research in Brief 17, Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity

Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity: Research in Brief

ICTD Research in Brief 17 (2018)

Fiscal federalism comprises the distribution of functions and tax revenue sources between central and regional governments. Fiscal federalism issues in respect of value added tax (VAT) do not arise in unitary states; in federal states questions arise as to which level of government should levy the tax, and how revenue should be divided between central and regional governments. More details

This is the cover of ICTD Working Paper 75 titled Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity by Wollela Abehodie Yesegat and Richard Krever.

Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity

ICTD Working Paper 75 (2018)

In most federal systems, state governments are funded through a combination of direct fiscal transfers from the central government, and the revenue they collect directly from locally adopted taxes. Ethiopia is a federal polity, but follows a slightly different path in the case of its most important tax source – value added tax (VAT). More details

This is the cover of ICTD Working Paper 76, titled Forest Taxation and REDD+: An Analysis of Potential Impacts in Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone by Stephen Spratt et al.

Forest Taxation and REDD+: An Analysis of Potential Impacts in Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone

ICTD Working Paper 76 (2018)

This research explores the impacts that REDD+ could have on forest tax systems in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and considers how policy could be designed to increase the chances that these impacts are positive. To assess this, a methodological framework is identified and adapted. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Research in Brief 18, Semi-Autonomous Revenue Authorities in sub-Saharan Africa: Silver Bullet or White Elephant?

Semi-Autonomous Revenue Authorities in sub-Saharan Africa: Silver Bullet or White Elephant? Research in Brief

ICTD Research in Brief 18 (2018)

A major component of tax administration reform in sub-Saharan Africa over the last thirty years has been the creation of semi-autonomous revenue authorities (SARAs). These operate at arm’s length from the ministry of finance, which is different to conventional tax administrations. They have an independent legal status, and usually integrate both customs and tax functions. More details

Non-IDS publication

Chapter 1: Taxing Multinational Business in Low-Income Countries

This is a chapter from the book: Taxing Multinational Business in Lower-Income Countries: More details

Non-IDS publication

Colonial Legacy, State-building and the Salience of Ethnicity in Sub-Saharan Africa

African colonial history suggests that British colonial rule may have undermined state centralisation due to legacies of ethnic segregation and stronger executive constraints. More details

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