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?

Stay up to date with the latest news from ICTD

Visit ICTD website to sign-up to the newsletter for regular updates or download the latest ICTD publications.

You can also follow ICTD on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook.

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

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 14, Taxing High Net Worth Individuals: Lessons from the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Experience

Taxing High Net Worth Individuals: Lessons from the Uganda Revenue Authority’s Experience

ICTD Summary Brief 14 (2018)

Low-income countries have, on average, reduced their reliance on foreign aid inthe past two decades. This has been achieved in part by collaborating with high-income countries and donor agencies to strengthen the capacity of tax authorities to collect revenue. While significant progress has been made, various revenue sources remain untapped. Many low-income countries continue to rely heavily on indirect taxes, such as Value Added Tax, and customs and excise duties. Income taxes contribute a very small percentage to total tax revenue, and are paid mainly by people in formal employment and large companies. More details

Wp506_FrontCover

How Do We Research Tax Morale at the Subnational Level?

IDS Working Paper 506 (2018)

One of the most effective ways of increasing voluntary tax compliance is by improving tax morale. Several studies have been undertaken to examine why some individuals pay taxes while others do not. While many of these studies have been conducted at the national level, there is an increasing body of research at the subnational level. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 5, What Have We Learned About Tax Compliance in Africa?

What Have We Learned About Tax Compliance in Africa?

ICTD Summary Brief 5 (2018)

Governments’ abilities to collect taxes depend on people’s willingness to pay them. Encouraging tax compliance demands a careful understanding of how taxpayers think about and experience taxation. Knowledge about taxpayer attitudes and behaviour is essential when analysing opportunities and constraints for reform, and for the design and implementation of effective policy and administrative measures to enhance compliance. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Research in Brief 16, Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos

Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos: Summary of Working Paper 73

ICTD Research in Brief 16 (2018)

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working Paper 73 by Tom Goodfellow and Olly Owen. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. More details

This is the front cover of ICTD Summary Brief 7, What Have We Learned About International Tax Disputes

What Have We Learned About International Tax Disputes

ICTD Summary Brief 7 (2018)

This Briefing summarises ICTD Working Paper 55, which examines the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) for tax authorities to resolve their differences over the interpretation of tax treaties. It surveys available evidence on reasons for the increase in such conflicts, and analyses proposals for improving the MAP, especially mandatory binding arbitration. Despite the shift to arbitration in the past decade among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states, there has been a continued rise in conflicts and in the time taken to resolve them. It seems inappropriate, especially for developing countries, to deal with these important issues through international procedures cloaked in total secrecy. More details

Teaser image for Lessons for International Tax Reform from the US State Experience under Formulary Apportionment

Lessons for International Tax Reform from the US State Experience under Formulary Apportionment

Research Report 2 (2018)

This work undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the US state experience under formulary apportionment of corporate income. More details

Non-IDS publication

Improving International Tax Dispute Settlement

This ICTD Research in Brief is a two-page summary of ICTD Working Paper 55 by Sol Picciotto. This series is aimed at policy makers, tax administrators, fellow researchers and anyone else who is big on interest and short on time. More details

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

Non-IDS publication

Urban Fortunes and Skeleton Cityscapes: Real Estate and Late Urbanization in Kigali and Addis Ababa

In many parts of Africa, societies that remain primarily rural are experiencing accelerated urban growth and highly visible booms in property development. In the absence of significant industrialization, investment is pouring directly into what Lefebvre and Harvey characterized as the ‘secondary circuit’ of capital. 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

Non-IDS publication

Building Support for Taxation in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Mexico

Drawing on insights from the literature on institutional design—how rules shape behavior to achieve desired outcomes—this article examines how certain design features of taxes—such as allowing for civil society oversight, earmark mechanisms that direct tax revenue for a specific purpose, and sunset provisions that make the duration of taxes finite—affect political support for tax reforms. 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