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The customer is king: Evidence on VAT compliance in Tanzania

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  • Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge
  • Kagoma, Cecilia
  • Mdee, Ephraim
  • Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem
  • Somville, Vincent

Abstract

Value Added Tax (VAT) has emerged as one of the main modes of raising tax revenue worldwide, but has significantly underperformed as a revenue source in African countries. To improve compliance, Tanzania has introduced Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs), which automatically transmit information about business transactions to the tax administration. However, VAT collection has not improved as expected. In this paper, we examine EFD compliance and identify factors that influence it. An innovation in this study is the direct observation of EFD usage: our enumerators waited for customers departing from business premises, and then checked their receipts, interviewed them and interviewed the businesses. This design enabled us to observe each business’s actual compliance in issuing EFD receipts, thus mitigating the problem of dishonest reporting of compliance, which is common in self-reported survey data. We find that EFD compliance is associated not only with the business’s perception of other businesses’ compliance and its satisfaction with public services, but also, and more strongly, with the customer’s perception of detection and penalty risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge & Kagoma, Cecilia & Mdee, Ephraim & Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem & Somville, Vincent, 2020. "The customer is king: Evidence on VAT compliance in Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:128:y:2020:i:c:s0305750x19304905
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104841
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    Cited by:

    1. Combey, Adama, 2020. "Evaluation De L’Ecart De Tva Au Togo [Evaluation Of The Vat Gap In Togo]," MPRA Paper 101478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Elineema Kisanga & Vincent Leyaro & Wahabi Matengo & Michael Noble & Helen Barnes & Gemma Wright, 2021. "Assessing the distributional impact of lowering the value-added tax rate for standard-rated items in Tanzania and options for recouping revenue losses," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2021-38, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Giulia Mascagni & Roel Dom & Fabrizio Santoro & Denis Mukama, 2023. "The VAT in practice: equity, enforcement, and complexity," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 30(2), pages 525-563, April.
    4. Abel Gwaindepi, 2022. "Domestic revenue mobilization and informality: Challenges and opportunities for sub-Saharan Africa," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2022-120, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    5. Youngrok Kim & Hongyu Wan & Minjo Kang, 2022. "Card or cash? Evidence regarding consumers' cooperative value‐added tax compliance," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 337-359, September.
    6. Miroslav Gombár & Antonín Korauš & Alena Vagaská & Štefan Tóth, 2022. "Analytical View on the Sustainable Development of Tax and Customs Administration in the Context of Selected Groups of the Population of the Slovak Republic," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(3), pages 1-22, February.
    7. Asiya Maskaeva & Joel Mmasa & Nicodemas Lema & Mgeni Msafiri, 2019. "The Impact of Fiscal Policy on Income Distribution in Tanzania: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," Working Papers MPIA 2019-07, PEP-MPIA.
    8. Elena Sidorova & Ekaterina Sebechenko & Yury Kostyukhin & Diana Boboshko & Alexey Kostin & Olga Kostina & Natalia Vikhrova, 2021. "Formation of a Sustainable Mechanism of Preferential VAT Taxation of Exports as Evidenced by the Russian Federation Practice," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-21, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Taxation; Tax compliance; VAT; Africa; Tanzania;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development

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