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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IDS publications on international development research

What Have We Learned About Informal Taxation in sub-Saharan Africa?

ICTD Summary Brief 2 (2016)

This ICTD Summary Brief looks at what has been learned about informal taxation in sub-Saharan Africa during the Centre's first five-year funding period, ending Spring 2016. More details

IDS publications on international development research

What Have We Learned About Taxation, Statebuilding and Accountability?

ICTD Summary Brief 4 (2016)

This ICTD Summary Brief looks at what has been learned about taxation, state-building and accountability during the Centre's first five-year funding period, ending Spring 2016. More details

ICTD Working Paper 48 Front Cover

The Corporate Tax Burden in Ethiopia: Evidence from Anonymised Tax Returns

ICTD Working Paper 48 (2016)

Our strongest result regards the relation between tax burdens and firm size. We find a statistically significant U-shaped relation between ETR and size. While small firms face the highest tax burden, the largest firms still pay more than middle-sized firms. It is this latter group that benefits from lower tax burdens. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The ICTD Government Revenue Dataset

ICTD Research in Brief 10 (2016)

This paper explains why existing sources of data on government revenue in developing countries are flawed, and how this undermines the robustness of research on the role of revenue and taxation in development. It presents a new Government Revenue Dataset to improve data accuracy and coverage. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Aid and Taxation: Exploring the Relationship Using New Data

ICTD Research in Brief 11 (2016)

This paper examines cross country evidence concerning the relationship between aid and taxation using a new dataset complied by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD). It finds no support for the claim that aid reduces tax effort. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Taxation, Non-Tax Revenue and Democracy: New Evidence Using New Cross-Country Data

ICTD Research in Brief 12 (2016)

This paper finds support for the existence of a political resource curse. It draws on improved quality data from the International Centre for Tax and Development's Government Revenue Dataset (ICTD GRD) to re-examine existing econometric tests and significantly improve their robustness. More details

ICTD Working Paper 49 front cover

A Fiscal History of Ethiopia: Taxation and Aid Dependence 1960-2010

ICTD Working Paper 49 (2016)

This paper reviews the fiscal history of Ethiopia, focusing particularly on the period between 1960 and 2010, for which detailed fiscal data is available to underpin the analysis. While looking at the main drivers and constraints to tax revenue mobilisation in this period, the paper explores the role that aid and donors have played, and how this historical background influences Ethiopia today. More details

ICTD Working Paper 46

From the Lab to the Field: a Review of Tax Experiments

ICTD Working Paper 46 (2016)

With new developments in methods and data availability, tax experiments have gradually moved away from lab settings and towards the field. This movement from the lab to the field has happened against the background of the ‘credibility revolution’ in applied economics, which has seen more rigorous methods applied to policy relevant questions, and of the availability to researchers of administrative data from tax returns. More details

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Redistributing Unpaid Care Work – Why Tax Matters for Women’s Rights

IDS Policy Briefing 109 (2016)

Globally, women perform the great majority of unpaid care work. This unjust distribution of labour has profound impacts on women’s human rights and is both a product and a driver of gender inequality. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Tax and the Governance Dividend

ICTD Working Paper 37 (2015)

It is now widely believed that taxation contributes to the quality of governance. There are a number of variants of the broad argument. The most general proposition is that, if governments are dependent on broad general taxation for their incomes, they will, for reasons of self-interest, be more responsive to the needs of their citizens and more likely to allow citizen representatives to share in governance. From a broad historical perspective, that argument is probably valid. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Political Economy of Property Tax in Africa: Explaining Reform Outcomes in Sierra Leone

African Affairs 114.456 (2015)

Effective local government taxation is critical to achieving the governance benefits widely attributed to decentralization, but in practice successful tax reform has been rare because of entrenched political resistance. This article offers new insights into the political dynamics of property tax reform through a case study of Sierra Leone, focusing on variation in experiences and outcomes across the country's four largest city councils. More details

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Tax Experiments in Developing Countries: A Critical Review and Reflections on Feasibility

CDI Practice Paper 11 (2015)

This CDI Practice Paper by Giulia Mascagni provides a critical assessment of the literature on tax experiments to date. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Taxation, Responsiveness and Accountability in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Dynamics of Tax Bargaining

This book provides the most complete treatment of the connections between taxation and accountability in developing countries, providing both new evidence and an invaluable starting point for future research. More details

IDS publications on international development research

How Property Tax Would Benefit Africa

Africa Research Institute: Counterpoints (2015)

The developmental benefits of governments taxing citizens, even for modest sums, are often disregarded. African governments have long depended on revenue from natural resources or foreign aid to fund budgets. While the potential contribution that better domestic resource mobilisation could make to national finances has received greater attention since the 2008 global financial crisis, international donors often fail to recall the central role that bargaining over taxation has played in building effective, accountable and responsive states across the developed world. Although never popular, taxation is an essential component of consensual and representative government. More details

ER97 Front Cover

A Review of Tax Experiments: from the Lab to the Field

IDS Evidence Report 97 (2014)

Tax revenue mobilisation is attracting increasing attention among researchers and policymakers in developed and developing countries alike. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Aid and Taxation: Exploring the Relationship Using New Data

ICTD Working Paper 21 (2014)

This paper examines cross-country evidence concerning the relationship between aid and taxation using a new dataset compiled by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), and including some extensions to the empirical specification common in the literature. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Electoral Competitiveness, Political Budget Cycles and Taxation in Developing Countries

ICTD Working Paper 24 (2014)

Despite significant evidence of 'political budget cycles' affecting public expenditure, studies of the impact of elections on tax collection have reached mixed conclusions. Drawing on significantly improved government revenue data, this paper finds, contrary to earlier research, that when we focus on all executive elections in developing countries there is no significant effect on levels of tax collection. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The ICTD Government Revenue Dataset

ICTD Working Paper 19 (2014)

A major obstacle to cross-country research on the role of revenue and taxation in development has been the weakness of available data. This paper presents a new Government Revenue Dataset (GRD), developed through the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD). More details

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Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy: Outputs November 2012 – March 2014

Accountable Grant Outputs Brochure (2014)

Knowledge and evidence are important elements of all policy processes. While the availability of more or higher quality evidence does not guarantee better policy processes, it is difficult to imagine how development policy and outcomes can be improved without it. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Taxation, Non-Tax Revenue and Democracy: New Evidence Using New Cross-Country Data

ICTD Working Paper 23 (2014)

A large body of cross-country econometric research has investigated the possibility of a political resource curse, by which access to extensive natural resources reduces the extent of democracy and accountability. More details