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Thematic Insight: Modernizing tax collection

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Developing, maintaining, and using tax records to boost revenue.

Tax revenue funds the provision of public goods, but poor countries struggle to raise taxes. In fact, as shown in the figure above, low income countries (LICs) raise only half as much tax revenue, as a share of GDP, as high-income countries (HIC). In turn, low tax revenue in developing countries leads to lower public good provision and insufficient anti-poverty programs, also in turn hindering economic growth and citizen welfare.

For policymakers in financially constrained countries, it is key to find ways to boost tax compliance by more strategically and efficiently using existing resources. This involves keeping better records to know who governments should be taxing and how much, processing and updating data, and testing different tax collection and audit procedures.

Key Questions: 

  • What are effective strategies to decrease tax avoidance?
  • Can bureaucrats increase tax compliance by more effectively managing their tax data?
  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of tax officials having discretion in assessment of tax liability, versus more rule-based processes or algorithmic decision-making?

In this brief, we discuss the taxation challenges of two countries – Senegal and India. We discuss the modern solutions that EDI-funded researchers are developing and testing in partnership with local tax authorities to help these countries raise more property, VAT, and corporate income tax.

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