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

Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa

World Development 60.8 (2014)

Although increasingly justified in terms of statebuilding, recent tax reforms in anglophone Africa contributed only modestly to that goal. They have produced impressive tax agencies, but no detectable increases in revenue collections. They have not addressed some major deficiencies in tax policy and administration. More details

image for non-ids publications

Tax Revenue Mobilistation In Developing Countries: Issues and Challenges

Governments in developing countries face great challenges in mobilising tax revenues, which result in a gap between what they could collect and what they actually collect. Tax gaps are hard to quantify for reasons that are discussed in the report More details

IDS publications on international development research

Tax Revenue Mobilisation in Developing Countries: Issues and Challenges

In recent years, domestic revenue mobilisation in developing countries gained increasing prominence in the policy debate. Several factors explain this, including the potential benefits of taxation for statebuilding; independence from foreign aid; the fiscal effects of trade liberalisation; the financial and debt crisis in the "West"; and the acute financial needs of developing countries. More details

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 58, 'Using Local IT Solutions to Improve Local Government Tax Reform'.

Using Local IT Solutions to Improve Local Government Tax Reform

IDS Policy Briefing 58 (2014)

Appropriate information technology systems are critical to realising the local government tax reforms that are the focus of growing international attention. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa

ICTD Research in Brief 7 (2014)

Within the development field, tax administration reform is an area of relative success. Over the past two decades, the national revenue systems of most countries in anglophone Africa have undergone major reforms. More details

Will Changes to the international Tax System Benefit Low-income Countries?

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 6 (2014)

In recent months tax has climbed up the political agenda in ways that would have been unthinkable only a couple of years ago. More details

cover page for ICTD Working Paper 15

Obstacles to Increasing Tax Revenues in Low Income Countries

This paper is focused on the question: why do the governments of low income countries not raise more tax revenues? Two different but complementary approaches are used to answer it. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Obstacles to Increasing Tax Revenues in Low Income Countries

ICTD Research In Brief 9 (2013)

This joint ICTD/UNRISD/SDC paper asks why governments of low-income countries do not raise more tax revenue, and explores options for increasing it. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Political Economy of Tax Reform in Bangladesh: Political Settlements, Informal Institutions and the Negotiation of Reform

ICTD Working Paper 14 (2013)

This paper explores the political economy of tax reform in Bangladesh over several decades, shedding light on the complex factors that account for unusually effective and sustained resistance to significant reform. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Taxing the Informal Economy: Challenges, Possibilities and Remaining Questions

ICTD Research in Brief 3 (2013)

There is growing interest in taxing the informal economy in developing countries. This paper examines the case for giving it greater priority, and suggests that policymakers and researchers should focus less on technical design issues, and more on strategies to encourage compliance, and to increase political and institutional incentives for reform. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Donors, Aid and Taxation in Developing Countries - An overview

ICTD Research in Brief 4 (2013)

This paper explores the direct impact of donor supported tax reform efforts; the indirect impact of aid and related donor policies on domestic tax effort; the potentially perverse effects of tax-related conditionality; and the impact of broader donor policies including global tax arrangements. It makes detailed recommendations about future donor support for tax reform. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 433, 'Environmental Taxation and Development: A Scoping Study'.

Environmental Taxation and Development: A Scoping Study

IDS Working Paper 433 (2013)

This paper reviews the potential of one type of mechanism to address both goals simultaneously: environmental taxation. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 429, 'Taxing the Informal Economy: Challenges, Possibilities and Remaining Questions'.

Taxing the Informal Economy: Challenges, Possibilities and Remaining Questions

IDS Working Paper 429 (2013)

Recent years have witnessed significantly increased attention to the challenge of taxing small businesses in the informal sector. However, much of this recent attention has remained focused on comparatively technical issues of revenue maximisation and policy design. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Rebuilding Local Government Finance After Conflict: The Political Economy of Property Tax Reform in Sierra Leone

ICTD Working Paper 12 (2013)

This research explores relatively successful reforms of the local property tax system in the four largest city councils in Sierra Leone. Deriving lessons from differing outcomes across the four councils, it highlights three key messages about the determinants of successful reform. More details

Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa

IDS Working Paper 428 (2013)

Within the development field, tax administration reform is an area of relative success. Over the past two decades, the national revenue systems of most countries in anglophone Africa have undergone major reforms. More details

Taxation and Development: What Have We Learned from Fifty Years of Research?

IDS Working Paper 427 (2013)

This paper considers how economic thinking about taxation in developing countries has changed over the last half century. It suggests that three different 'models' of development taxation may be discerned over this period. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa

ICTD Working Paper 10 (2013)

Within the development field, tax administration reform is an area of relative success. Over the past two decades, the national revenue systems of most countries in anglophone Africa have undergone major reforms. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Changing Politics of Tax Policy Reform in Developing Countries

PREM Notes Special Series on Governance and Public Sector Management 2 (2013)

Who shapes tax policy reform in developing countries? A wider range of political actors are beginning to exercise influence. A brief history will explain who they are and how they operate. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Donors, Aid and Taxation in Developing Countries: An Overview

ICTD Working Paper 6 (2012)

Recent years have witnessed rapidly growing donor interest in tax issues in the developing world. This reflects a concern with revenue collection to finance public spending, but also recognition of the centrality of taxation to growth, redistribution and broader state-building and governance goals. Against this backdrop, this paper identifies a series of key issues that demand attention if donors are to improve the quality of their support for tax reform. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Taxing the Informal Economy: Challenges, Possibilities and Remaining Questions

ICTD Working Paper 4 (2012)

Recent years have witnessed significantly increased attention to the challenge of taxing small businesses in the informal sector. However, much of this recent attention has remained focused on comparatively technical issues of revenue maximization and policy design. This paper argues that this debate should focus increasingly on the wider development implications of informal sector taxation, as well as the political and institutional barriers to improved performance. More details