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 cover of the ICTD/ UNU Wider Working Paper 2016/155 titled Tax Revenue Mobilization in Conflict-affected Developing Countries.

Tax Revenue Mobilization in Conflict-Affected Developing Countries

ICTD/ UNU Wider Working Paper 2016-155 (2016)

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. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Carrot and the Stick: Evidence on Voluntary Tax Compliance from a Pilot Field Experiment in Rwanda

ICTD Working Paper 57 (2016)

This paper reports the results of a pilot experiment in Rwanda designed to encourage voluntary tax compliance by providing information on sanctions. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Les avantages de l’impot foncier pour l'Afrique

Africa Research Institute: Counterpoints (2016)

Sur le plan du développement, on néglige souvent les effets bénéfiques de l'imposition même pour des sommes modiques. Pour financer leurs budgets, les gouvernements en Afrique s'appuient depuis longtemps sur des revenus tirés des ressources naturelles ou bien sur des aides extérieures. Depuis la crise financière mondiale de 2008, on parle plus de la contribution potentielle que pourrait fournir une amélioration dans la mobilisation des ressources intérieures. Néanmoins, les donateurs internationaux oublient souvent le rôle primordial de la négociation des impôts dans la construction d'états efficaces, responsables, et réactifs, partout dans le monde développé. L'imposition n'est jamais chose appréciée par les contribuables : mais, dans le long terme, ce n'est qu'en payant les impôts que les citoyens auront un gouvernement consensuel et représentatif. More details

ICTD Generic WP cover

Unlocking the Potential of Administrative Data in Africa: Tax Compliance and Progressivity in Rwanda

ICTD Working Paper 56 (2016)

This paper is the first in a series of three studies looking at tax compliance using administrative data from Rwanda. It discusses the use of administrative data for tax research – specifically anonymised taxpayers records, which have become increasingly available on the African continent. More details

IDS publications on international development research

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

ICTD Research in Brief 13 (2016)

This paper looks at the challenge faced by many low income countries of increasing tax revenue dramatically while minimising distortions in the economy that may discourage investment and, more generally, economic growth. In this context, corporations have to contribute to the public purse but their tax burden should still allow them to prosper. More details

IDS publications on international development research

What Have We Learned About Mining Taxation in Africa?

ICTD Summary Brief 1 (2016)

This ICTD Summary Brief is one of six special research synthesis pieces produced at the end of the ICTD's first five-year funding period in Spring 2016. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Revenue-Maximising or Revenue-Sacrificing Government? Property Tax in Pakistan

The Journal of Development Studies (2016)

This paper details the case of property tax collection in Pakistan, and concludes that governments tend to maximise rule before they maximise revenue. More details

This is the cover of the Journal Article titled Revenue-Maximising or Revenue-Sacrificing Government? Property Tax in Pakistan by Mujtaba Piracha and Mick Moore.

Revenue-Maximising or Revenue-Sacrificing Government? Property Tax in Pakistan

The Journal of Development Studies Vol 52 (2016)

The idea that states seek to maximise their revenue collection has occupied a significant place in contemporary political economy analysis of taxation, and has helped us understand the history of state formation. It is, however, very much at variance with the daily experience of tax policy and practice. Governments are frequently revenue-sacrificers: they fail to use the functioning, legitimate tax collection systems they have available to actually collect much revenue. This paper details the case of property tax collection in Pakistan, and concludes that governments tend to maximise rule before they maximise revenue. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Aid and Taxation in Ethiopia

The Journal of Development Studies 52.12 (2016)

The case of Ethiopia supports the existence of a positive relation between aid and tax, which occurs mainly through policy advice and technical assistance rather than conditionality. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Rebuilding Local Government Finances After Conflict: Lessons from a Property Tax Reform Programme in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone

Journal of Development Studies 52.12 (2016)

This research interrogates the factors underpinning the relative success of a property tax reform programme in Sierra Leone. Recognising the importance of politics in shaping reform outcomes, it highlights reform strategies that have contributed to overcoming both technical and political barriers to reform. More details

IDS publications on international development research

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

Journal of Development Studies 52.12 (2016)

This paper explains the persistence of a tax system characterised by low revenue collection and extensive informality in Bangladesh. It combines analysis of long-term formal and informal institutions and of micro-level incentives shaping negotiation of short-term reform. More details

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

This is the cover of the Journal Article titled Electoral Competitiveness, Tax Bargaining and Political Incentives in Developing Countries: Evidence from Political Budget Cycles Affecting Taxation by Wilson Prichard.

Electoral Competitiveness, Tax Bargaining and Political Incentives in Developing Countries: Evidence from Political Budget Cycles Affecting Taxation

British Journal of Political Science (2016)

Studies of political budget cycles in developing countries have generally sought to inform understanding of short-term fiscal dynamics, but can also offer unique insight into broader political dynamics in developing countries. This article correspondingly employs markedly improved data in order to study the impact of elections on tax collection, and draw broader lessons. It shows that while electi 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

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

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