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Measuring tax effort: Does the estimation approach matter and should effort be linked to expenditure goals?



In this paper we attempt to take a fresh look at the classical question of the determinants of tax effort. Our goal is to better understand the fundamental economic logic of the different approaches that have been used in the previous literature, consider alternative measurements which may provide a more direct intuition of what the concept of tax effort attempts to measure, and to compare quantitatively the rankings of tax effort produced by all these different approaches. As we see it, the fundamental issue is how to move forward toward a definition of tax effort that has a higher relevance to the developmental needs and budgetary ambitions of a country and as an indicator of potential tax reform needs. Fundamentally, all tax effort indicators are calculated by comparing actual collection performance against a measure of potential collections. This definitional choice lays out several dimensions for the conduct of tax policy in a country. These include the need for reform to raise revenues with reference to some potential, the desirable timing and urgency of those reforms, and the extent of the gains in national welfare that are achievable with these reforms. While the first two dimensions have been examined in different ways in the previous literature, in this paper, for the first time in this literature, we will examine how much the two different approaches to estimation of tax effort matter as compared to those conventionally used. In addition, and also for the first time in this literature, in this paper we argue for the need to explicitly link the adequacy of tax effort with the specific expenditure goals of government and their associated gains in national welfare.

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  • Musharraf Cyan & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & VIoleta Vulovic, 2013. "Measuring tax effort: Does the estimation approach matter and should effort be linked to expenditure goals?," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1308, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1308

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    Cited by:

    1. Leanora Alecia Brown & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2015. "International Debt Forgiveness: Who Gets Picked and Its Effect On The Tax Effort Of Developing Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1504, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    2. Andrew Feltenstein & Nour Abdul-Razzak & Jeffrey Condon & Biplab Kumar Datta, 2015. "Tax Evasion, the Provision of Public Infrastructure and Growth: A General Equilibrium Approach to Two Very Different Countries, Egypt and Mauritius," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 24(suppl_2), pages 43-72.
    3. Jean-François Brun & Maïmouna Diakite, 2016. "Tax Potential and Tax Effort: An Empirical Estimation for Non-resource Tax Revenue and VAT’s Revenue," Working Papers halshs-01332053, HAL.
    4. Pamela Lenton & Mike Masiye & Paul Mosley, 2017. "Taxpayer’s dilemma: how can ‘fiscal contracts’ work in developing countries?," Working Papers 2017004, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.
    5. Garg, Sandya & Ashima Goyal & Rupayan Pal, 2014. "Why tax effort falls short of capacity in Indian states: A Stochastic frontier approach," Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai Working Papers 2014-032, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, India.
    6. Jean-François BRUN & Tiangboho SANOGO, 2017. "Effect of central transfers on municipalities’ own revenue mobilization: Do conflict and local revenue management matter?," Working Papers 201716, CERDI.
    7. Jean-François Brun & Tiangboho Sanogo, 2017. "Effect of central transfers on municipalities' own revenue mobilization: Do conflict and local revenue management matter?," Working Papers halshs-01613108, HAL.

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