Centre for the Future State home page DRC Publications Research Programme Partner Organisations CFS Activities Contact us Home page

DRC publications on the theme of taxation

< Go back

Having an impact: Our work on Taxation and Governance

Researchers associated with the DRC have been working on taxation and governance since the Centre was established in 2000 (see the archive for some information on our earlier work). Our work is now receiving a great deal of attention. Why?

  • We have published a great deal on this over the years (available here), but our two major ‘statements' have only recently appeared.

IDS Working Paper 280 summarises the policy implications of a growing debate about the connections between taxation and the quality of governance in developing countries.



Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries: Capacity and Consent

Edited by:
Deborah Brautigam

American University, Washington DC
Odd-Helge Fjeldstad
Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway
Mick Moore


*NEW* Will Prichard's working paper now available!
Examines the evolution of the tax system in Ghana since 1981 and the implications this has had for politics and accountability in that country.

  • We have always worked with networks of scholars in a range of countries, and so our work ‘multiplies' through a range of channels (See Dissemination Highlights).

  • The time is right. Taxation is now emerging as a major policy issue internationally, partly because of concerns about growing income inequality, and partly in response to campaigning work by organisations like the Tax Justice Network, revealing how deeply tax evasion and capital flight cut into the incomes of governments. Civil society organisations campaigning for budgetary transparency have also played an important role. For example the International Budget Project.

What do we have to say about taxes and governance?

The core message of our research is that the ways in which governments are funded has very significant impacts on the quality of governance:

  • Governance is better where governments have to earn their incomes by taxing a wide range of citizens and economic activities. It is worse where governments can rely on large unearned levies on the proceeds of exporting oil, gas and concentrated mineral deposits. These unearned incomes are very significant for the governments of many poor and middle income countries.

  • Conversely, well-managed taxation systems can play a major role in state-building, by helping create the conditions for relatively negotiated and consensual political settlements between political elites and citizens.

The Centre has conducted research on a variety of issues linked to this central theme, notably:

  • The problems caused by the coercive taxation practiced in many poor areas and countries.
    Answer: big problems; abolition often a good thing

  • Acceptable methods of taxing the large informal sectors that exist in the cities of poor countries.
    Answer: try to use business associations more to spearhead the introduction of presumptive income taxes

  • The extent to which orthodox tax reform programmes promoted by influential global organisations are consistent with the agenda of using taxation as a lever to improve governance.
    Answer: they are fairly consistent, but need to be a broader and more locally adaptable

  • The appropriateness to poor countries of the fast-spreading practice of creating (semi-) autonomous revenue authorities.
    Answer: these are mostly sensible reforms, badly labelled

Recent dissemination highlights

  • Mick and Will attend the ATAF inaugural conference in Kampala (November 2009)

  • The Centre organises a meeting of NGOs in London which work on taxation issues (October 2009)

  • Mick Moore spoke on Aid, Taxation and Accountability at a joint Economic Commission for Africa-OECD meeting on More Effective Aid in Times of Crisis held at the ECA-African Union Finance Ministers Annual Meeting, Cairo, Egypt.
    (June 2009)

  • The DRC Future States work is credited in Max Everest-Phillips' recent paper "Business as State Building in Developing Countries"

  • Mick Moore was approached to provide some background information for use in Angel Gurria's (OECD Secretary General) remarks regarding the Doha Review Conference. Click here to access more information (November 2008)

  • Christian von Haldenwang of the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik has produced a paper, influenced by Mick's work, on taxation and social cohesion in Latin America.
    It can be accessed here.
    DIE is trying to convene an event to discuss the taxation issue and has recently completed a project on semi-autonomous tax agencies in Peru. (October 08)

  • Mick Moore spoke on Taxation and Governance to the staff of Christian Aid, London. You can listen to the discussion by clicking here (September 08)

  • Mick Moore spoke on Government, Politics, Capital and Business at the DFID Multi-Disciplinary Working for Growth Day, London.
    (September 08)

  • A recent email circular from Mick Moore has been published on the Tax Justice blog and can be accessed here.

  • The IMF recently published the article 'Mobilizing Revenue' in its lead journal Finance and Development. This article by Sanjeev Gupta and Shamsuddin Tareq made reference to IDS Working Paper 280 by Mick Moore.

  • Adrian Wood, Professor of International Development at the University of Oxford, former IDS fellow and current IDS trustee, published the article 'How donors should cap aid to Africa' in the Financial Times. This work, in part, drew on the findings of the taxation research at the CFS and its partners.

  • Mick Moore was invited to Abuja in May to address 300 people on ‘taxation and governance' at the 10th Annual Tax Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

  • Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries was launched in the United States in February at the American Enterprise Institute, with a public discussion involving Professor Robert Bates (Harvard), Deborah Brautigam (American University) and Mick Moore. The Institute then published a Policy Outlook Paper by Deborah titled ‘Taxation and Governance in Africa. Take a Second Look'.

  • Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries will be reviewed in the Journal of Economic Literature by Robert Bates.

  • The OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has recently decided to take up issues of taxation and domestic accountability (of aid-receiving governments) as a policy issue, and has published a policy brief; Taxation, State Building and Aid. Sue Unsworth provided a background paper for the DAC discussions.

  • Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries was launched in Norway in March by Odd-Helge Fjeldstad at a meeting organised by Norad.

  • Two speakers at the London launch of Taxation and State-Building in Developing Countries , Professor Adrian Wood and Mick Moore, were invited to make presentations to the staff of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs in London.

  • As soon as it was published in April 2007, How Does Taxation Affect the Quality of Governance? was reprinted in Tax Notes International, the leading international professional journal for taxation specialists.


Dissemination Highlights




Top | Publications | Research | Partners | Activities | Contact | Home