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.
The first approach is comparisons: among countries today, and within countries over time. The comparative and historical approach also draws attention to the political constraints on the capacity of governments to raise more revenues.
The second approach to answering the central question of this paper is to examine the potential benefits of reforms in tax policy and administration. This generates more optimism about the possibilities of raising additional revenues.