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Corruption in Tax Administration: Lessons from Institutional Reforms in Uganda

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  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Abstract

Over the past two decades many developing countries have implemented comprehensive reforms of their tax administrations in order to increase revenue and curb corruption. This paper examines recent experiences in the fight against corruption in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). It argues that the technocratic remedies supported by donors have underplayed the degree to which progress in tax administration depends upon a thorough 'cultural change' in the public service. The motives of individual actors are often inextricably tied to the interests of the social groups to which they belong. In the URA patronage runs through networks grounded on ties of kinship and community origin. As such, people recognize the benefits of large extended families and strong kinship ties, even as their social and economic aspirations may be indisputably modern. This implies that such social relations may undermine formal bureaucratic structures and positions. If these problems, which are rooted in social norms and patterns of behavior rather than administrative features, are overlooked, the result may be to distort incentives. As a consequence, the government's commitment to reforming the tax administration may also be undermined.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway in its series CMI Working Papers with number WP 2005: 10.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chm:wpaper:wp2005-10

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Keywords: Corruption Incentives Social norms Tax administration Tax evasion Uganda;

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References

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  1. Rauch, James E. & Evans, Peter B., 2000. "Bureaucratic structure and bureaucratic performance in less developed countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 49-71, January.
  2. Espen Villanger & Anette Walstad Enes, 2004. "The role of participation and empowerment in income and poverty dynamics in Indonesia 1993-2000," CMI Working Papers WP 2004: 13, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  3. Sheetal K. Chand & Karl Ove Moene, 1997. "Controlling Fiscal Corruption," IMF Working Papers 97/100, International Monetary Fund.
  4. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge & Tungodden, Bertil, 2003. "Fiscal Corruption: A Vice or a Virtue?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 1459-1467, August.
  5. Joel Slemrod, 2002. "Trust in Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 9187, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Astri Suhrke & Espen Villanger & Susan L. Woodward, 2005. "Economic Aid to Post-conflict Countries: A Methodological Critique of Collier and Hoeffler," CMI Working Papers WP 2005:4, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  7. Bernard Gauthier & Ritva Reinikka, 2006. "Shifting Tax Burdens through Exemptions and Evasion: an Empirical Investigation of Uganda," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(3), pages 373-398, September.
  8. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Florida Henjewele & Geoffrey Mwambe & Erasto Ngalewa & Knut Nygaard, 2004. "Local government finances and financial management in Tanzania," CMI Working Papers WP 2004: 7, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  9. Taliercio, Robert Jr., 2004. "Administrative Reform as Credible Commitment: The Impact of Autonomy on Revenue Authority Performance in Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 213-232, February.
  10. Bjorvatn, Kjetil & Torsvik, Gaute & Tungodden, Bertil, 2004. "How middle-men can undermine anti-corruption reforms," Working Papers in Economics 12/04, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  11. Arne Wiig, 2005. "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Angolan Oil Industry," CMI Working Papers WP 2005: 8, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  12. Besley, Timothy & McLaren, John, 1993. "Taxes and Bribery: The Role of Wage Incentives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(416), pages 119-41, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Seim, Line Tndel & Sreide, Tina, 2009. "Bureaucratic complexity and impacts of corruption in utilities," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 176-184, June.
  2. Kent Eaton & Kai Kaiser & Paul J. Smoke, 2011. "The Political Economy of Decentralization Reforms : Implications for Aid Effectiveness," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2336, October.
  3. Espen Villanger, 2006. "Is bonded labor voluntary? A framework against forced work," CMI Working Papers WP 2006: 7, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  4. Andrews , Matt & Bategeka, Lawrence, 2013. "Overcoming the limits of institutional reform in Uganda," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Richard M. Bird, 2008. "The BBLR Approach to tax Reform in Emerging Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0804, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  6. Tahseen Ajaz & Eatzaz Ahmad, 2010. "The Effect of Corruption and Governance on Tax Revenues," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 405–417.
  7. Tina Søreide, 2006. "Is it wrong to rank? A critical assessment of corruption indices," CMI Working Papers WP 2006: 1, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  8. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Ivar Kolstad & Knut Nygaard, 2006. "Bribes, taxes and regulations: Business constraints for micro enterprises in Tanzania," CMI Working Papers WP 2006: 2, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  9. Leonardo Romeo & Paul Smoke, 2014. "The Political Economy of Local Infrastructure Planning," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1417, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

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