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Fighting fiscal corruption: The case of the Tanzania Revenue Authority


  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad


Over the last decade several African countries have undertaken comprehensive reforms of their tax administrations, with the aims of increasing revenue and curbing corruption. This paper examines recent experiences in the fight against corruption in the Tanzania Revenue Authority. Two lessons of broader relevance are highlighted. Firstly, even with relatively high wages and good working conditions, corruption may continue to thrive. In a situation where there is high demand for corrupt services, it is unrealistic to provide tax officers with pay rates that can compensate for the amount gained through bribery. Without extensive and effective monitoring wage increases may produce a highly paid but also highly corrupt tax administration. Secondly, hiring and firing procedures may lead to more corruption. Corrupt tax officers often operate in networks, which also include external actors. The manner in which the administrative reform was implemented in Tanzania, where many of those fired were recruited to the private sector as 'tax experts', seems to have strengthened the corruption networks. This partly explains why the positive process experienced in the initial phase of the new revenue authority was later reversed.

Suggested Citation

  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, 2002. "Fighting fiscal corruption: The case of the Tanzania Revenue Authority," CMI Working Papers WP 2002:3, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  • Handle: RePEc:chm:wpaper:wp2002-3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chand, Sheetal K. & Moene, Karl O., 1999. "Controlling Fiscal Corruption," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 1129-1140, July.
    2. Hindriks, Jean & Keen, Michael & Muthoo, Abhinay, 1999. "Corruption, extortion and evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 395-430, December.
    3. Janet Gale Stotsky & Asegedech WoldeMariam, 1997. "Tax Effort in Sub-Saharan Africa," IMF Working Papers 97/107, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N, 1991. "Tax Base Erosion in Developing Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(4), pages 849-872, July.
    5. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge & Tungodden, Bertil, 2003. "Fiscal Corruption: A Vice or a Virtue?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 1459-1467, August.
    6. Fjeldstad, O.H., 2001. "Fiscal Decentralisation in Tanzania: For Better of for Worse?," Papers 2001:10, Universitat Zurich - Wirtschaftswissenschaftliches Institut.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roel Dom, 2017. "Semi-Autonomous Revenue Authorities in Sub-Saharan Africa: Silver Bullet or White Elephant," Discussion Papers 2017-01, University of Nottingham, CREDIT.
    2. 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.
    3. Christian von Soest, 2006. "Measuring the Capability to Raise Revenue Process and Output Dimensions and Their Application to the Zambia Revenue Authority," GIGA Working Paper Series 35, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    4. Lund, Jens Friis & Treue, Thorsten, 2008. "Are We Getting There? Evidence of Decentralized Forest Management from the Tanzanian Miombo Woodlands," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2780-2800, December.
    5. World Bank, 2004. "Investment Climate Assessment : Improving Enterprise Performance and Growth in Tanzania," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14413, The World Bank.
    6. Richard M. Bird, 2014. "Administrative Dimensions of Tax Reform," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 963-992, November.
    7. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Warlters, Michael, 2006. "The Marginal Cost of Public Funds in Developing Countries: An Application to 38 African Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 6007, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Hasker, Kevin & Okten, Cagla, 2008. "Intermediaries and corruption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 103-115, July.
    9. Espen Villanger, 2003. "Company interests and foreign aid policy: Playing donors out against each other," CMI Working Papers WP 2003:5, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    10. Warlters, Michael & Auriol, Emmanuelle, 2005. "The marginal cost of public funds in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3679, The World Bank.
    11. Fredriksson, Anders, 2014. "Bureaucracy intermediaries, corruption and red tape," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 256-273.
    12. Malay Biswas, 2017. "Are They Efficient in the Middle? Using Propensity Score Estimation for Modeling Middlemen in Indian Corporate Corruption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 563-586, March.
    13. AfDB AfDB, 2005. "Working Paper 82 - Public Sector Management in Africa," Working Paper Series 2296, African Development Bank.
    14. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Warlters, Michael, 2012. "The marginal cost of public funds and tax reform in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 58-72.
    15. AfDB AfDB, 2005. "Working Paper 82 - Public Sector Management in Africa," Working Paper Series 2216, African Development Bank.
    16. Espen Villanger, 2004. "Company Influence on Foreign Aid Disbursement: Is Conditionality Credible when Donors Have Mixed Motives?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(2), pages 334-351, October.
    17. Christian von Soest, 2006. "How Does Neopatrimonialism Affect the African State? The Case of Tax Collection in Zambia," GIGA Working Paper Series 32, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    18. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, 2002. "The fight against corruption and the role of parliamentarians," CMI Working Papers WP 2002:6, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    19. Epaphra, Manamba, 2015. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from Missing Imports in Tanzania," MPRA Paper 62328, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Mikhail Drugov & John Hamman & Danila Serra, 2014. "Intermediaries in corruption: an experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(1), pages 78-99, March.
    21. Joseph R.A Ayee, 2005. "Working Paper 82 - Public Sector Management in Africa," Working Paper Series 217, African Development Bank.
    22. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge, 2013. "Taxation and Development : a Review of Donor Support to Strengthen Tax Systems in Developing Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 010, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item


    Corruption Tax evasion Tax administration Incentives;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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