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

Linking taxation and social protection: Evidence on redistribution and poverty reduction in Ethiopia

Although redistribution results from the simultaneous effects of taxes and transfers, analyses of their distributional effects in low?income countries have largely been undertaken from singular perspectives. This article jointly assesses the distributional effect of taxes and transfers (through social protection) using Ethiopia as a case study. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 3, International Corporate Taxation

International Corporate Taxation

ICTD Summary Brief 3 (2018)

Much of ICTD’s research concerns domestic taxation, but international taxation is also important to developing countries – especially taxation of transnational corporations (TNCs). In many developing countries the formal economy is dominated by foreign-owned firms, while much domestic economic activity occurs informally, with few if any books and records maintained. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Working Paper 70, How Can Governments of Low-Income Countries Collect More Tax Revenue?

How Can Governments of Low-Income Countries Collect More Tax Revenue?

ICTD Working Paper 70 (2017)

It is widely believed that the governments of many low-income countries, and especially the relatively poor performers, should be aiming to increase the proportion of GDP they raise in tax revenue. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Assisting Developing Countries in Taxation after the OECD’s BEPS Reports: A Suggested Approach for the Donor Community

ICTD Working Paper 71 (2017)

This paper explores how the international donor community might most productively offer technical assistance to developing countries in the area of taxation, in light of the OECD’s recently completed study of ‘base erosion and profit shifting’ (BEPS). The paper addresses both the political and the technical constraints facing developing country tax administrations. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 10, Valuation for Property Tax Purposes

Valuation for Property Tax Purposes

ICTD Summary Brief 10 (2017)

Improving processes for valuing properties lies at the heart of efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of property taxation. Effective property taxation is impossible without efficient property valuation. In practice, however, valuation rolls across most of Africa are incomplete and severely out-of-date, thus dramatically reducing potential property tax yield. This is, at least in part, a function of history: many of the valuation models being used on the continent do not reflect best practices and local learning, but are inherited vestiges of colonial systems that no longer respond adequately to local needs. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Research in Brief 15, Informal Taxation in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone: Taxpayers’ Experiences and Perceptions

Informal Taxation in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone: Taxpayers’ Experiences and Perceptions

ICTD Research in Brief 15 (2017)

In low-income and post-conflict countries, and particularly in rural areas, citizens often pay a range of ‘taxes’ that differ substantially from statutory policies. These ‘informal taxes’, paid to a variety of state and non-state actors, are frequently overlooked in analyses of local systems of taxation. This is problematic, as it leads to misunderstandings of individual and household tax burdens, More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 11, Strengthening IT Systems for Property Tax Reform

Strengthening IT Systems for Property Tax Reform

ICTD Summary Brief 11 (2017)

The introduction of improved IT systems has long been hailed as a powerful – potentially transformative – tool for strengthening local property taxes. Yet in practice this promise has rarely been achieved on a sustainable basis in Africa, despite significant investment. The challenge lies in understanding why new IT systems have failed to deliver promised benefits, and in devising more effective systems and strategies moving forward. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 13, Linking Property Tax Revenue and Public Services

Linking Property Tax Revenue and Public Services

ICTD Summary Brief 13 (2017)

In practical terms most property tax reforms are, first and foremost, efforts to increase tax revenue. But the ultimate goal of tax reform is, of course, broader: expanding tax revenue in order to finance the provision of valuable publicly-provided goods and services. Tax reformers are correspondingly faced with a simple question: is the revenue from tax reform actually likely to be translated into publicly-provided goods and services? Perhaps more importantly, could property tax reform programmes be designed explicitly to increase the likelihood that revenue will be translated into valued publicly-provided goods and services? More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 12, Central-Local Government Roles and Relationships in Property Taxation

Central-Local Government Roles and Relationships in Property Taxation

ICTD Summary Brief 12 (2017)

Should central or local governments be responsible for collection and administration of property taxes? There is great variation in practice across the continent, but one particularly significant divide is that between francophone and anglophone countries.The former commonly adopt centralised systems, while the latter usually decentralise key aspects of property taxation such as collection and administration. This divide has its roots in different modalities of colonial rule, but was exaggerated through the trend towards decentralised governance that took hold in the 1990s, supported by Anglo-American development assistance. This policy brief explores some of the strengths and weaknesses of decentralised versus centralised approaches, the incentives they create for government authorities to collect the tax, and some of the political challenges of rearranging central-local relations. It suggests that the question of whether to centralise or decentralise the tax as a whole oversimplifies the problem. More details

Wp486_FrontCover

Perspectives from the Field: SDC Cooperation for Property Taxation

IDS Working Paper 486 (2017)

This paper reviews three projects implemented in the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network that aim to provide incentives for local governments to increase tax compliance and revenues. The investigation focuses on three projects that aim to improve local revenue mobilisation. More details

IDS publications on international development research

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

Journal of Economic Surveys (2017)

Tax experiments have been gaining momentum in recent years, although this literature dates back several decades. With new developments in methods and data availability, tax experiments have gradually moved away from lab settings and towards the field. More details

This is the cover of the ICTD/ UNU Wider Working Paper 2017_55 titled Global Distribution of Revenue Loss from Tax Avoidance, Re-estimatino and Country results by Alex Cobham and Petra Jansky.

Global distribution of revenue loss from tax avoidance - Re-estimation and country results

ICTD/ UNU Wider Working Paper 2017_55 (2017)

International corporate tax is an important source of government revenue, especially in lower-income countries. An important recent study of the scale of this problem was carried out by International Monetary Fund researchers Ernesto Crivelli, Ruud De Mooij, and Michael Keen. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Informal Taxation in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone: Taxpayers' Experiences and Perceptions

ICTD Working Paper 66 (2017)

In low-income and post-conflict countries, and particularly in rural areas, citizens often pay a range of 'taxes' that differ substantially from statutory policies. These 'informal taxes', paid to a variety of state and non-state actors, are frequently overlooked in analyses of local systems of taxation. This is problematic as it leads to misunderstandings of individual and household tax burdens, as well as of systems of local governance. More details

This is the front cover to the book, 'Taxing Multinational Enterprises as Unitary Firms'.

Taxing Multinational Enterprises as Unitary Firms

The international tax system needs a paradigm shift. The rules devised over 80 years ago treat the different parts of a multinational enterprise as if they were independent entities, although they also give national tax authorities powers to adjust the accounts of these entities. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Tax and Gender in Developing Countries: What are the Issues?

ICTD Summary Brief 6 (2017)

This brief explains what we have learned about gender and taxation and looks at: why taxation is relevant for gender; where gender is relevant in taxation; bias in tax structures; amongst other themes. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 6, Tax and Gender in Developing Countries: What are the Issues?

Tax and Gender in Developing Countries: What are the Issues?

ICTD Summary Brief 6 (2017)

This ICTD Summary Brief is the sixth in our six special research synthesis pieces, produced at the end of the ICTD's first five-year funding period in Spring 2016. This brief explains what we have learned about gender and taxation and looks at: why taxation is relevant for gender; where gender is relevant in taxation; bias in tax structures; amongst other themes. More details

ICTD Generic WP cover

One size does not fit all: A field experiment on the drivers of tax compliance and delivery methods in Rwanda

ICTD Working Paper 58 (2017)

Although field experiments in tax compliance represent a growing area of research, the literature has so far focused exclusively on high and middle-income countries. This paper starts to fill this gap by reporting the results of a tax field experiment in Rwanda, while also highlighting some characteristics that may be common to other low-income countries. More details

This is the cover of the Journal Article titled Structural power in comparative political economy: perspectives from policy formulation in Latin America by Tasha Fairfield.

Structural power in comparative political economy: perspectives from policy formulation in Latin America

Business and Politics (2017)

Structural power is a critical variable that merits more extensive and more explicit attention in Latin American political economy and in comparative politics more broadly. Assessing structural power in conjunction with its counterpart, instrumental power, can provide strong leverage for explaining variation in policy outcomes that affect business interests. However, structural power must be caref More details

IDS publications on international development research

Linking Taxation and Social Protection: Evidence on Redistribution and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia

ICTD Working Paper 61 (2017)

This paper aims to jointly assess the distributional effect of taxes and transfers, through social protection, using Ethiopia as a case study. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 9, What Have We Learned About International Taxation and Economic Substance?

What Have We Learned About International Taxation and Economic Substance?

ICTD Summary Brief 9 (2017)

The landscape of international corporate taxation will change significantly as a result of the G20/OECD project on base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The contours of this new terrain have become apparent since the publication of the main outputs of the project in October 2015.The BEPS outputs aim to strengthen the system and give better tools to tax authorities – if they have the capacity and will to use them. More details