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Tax Challenges Facing Developing Countries

  • Richard M. Bird


Most developing countries continue to face serious problems in developing adequate and responsive tax systems. This paper reviews the three principal ways in which developing countries may expand and improve their taxation systems - base-broadening, rate reduction, and administrative improvement - in the context of the political economy of tax reform. While each of these paths to reform is essential, in the end what 50 years of experience tells us is that improving the transparency and understanding with which fiscal issues are discussed by all relevant players, both within and outside government, is the really essential ingredient to developing viable and sustainable tax systems in developing countries. Such institution-building activities are not a boring bit of infrastructure to be brushed aside in order to get into the real business of making this or that substantive reform in tax policy or administration: they are the "real business" with which serious tax reformers in any country should be most concerned.[IIB WP]

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Paper provided by eSocialSciences in its series Working Papers with number id:1618.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:1618
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  1. Hettich,Walter & Winer,Stanley L., 1999. "Democratic Choice and Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521622912, April.
  2. Warlters, Michael & Auriol, Emmanuelle, 2005. "The marginal cost of public funds in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3679, The World Bank.
  3. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Warlters, Michael, 2005. "Taxation base in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 625-646, April.
  4. Richard M. Bird & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2008. "Societal Institutions and Tax Effort in Developing Countries," CEMA Working Papers 582, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  5. Peter H. Lindert, 2003. "Voice and Growth: Was Churchill Right?," NBER Working Papers 9749, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
  8. Alberto Alesina & George-Marios Angeletos, 2002. "Fairness and Redistribution: US versus Europe," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1983, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Jack A. Goldstone, 2007. "Jack Goldstone on Gregory Clark, A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 8(3), pages 207-225, July.
  10. Gordon, Roger & Li, Wei, 2009. "Tax structures in developing countries: Many puzzles and a possible explanation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 855-866, August.
  11. Richard M. Bird, 2006. "Taxing Land and Property in Emerging Economies: Raising Revenue...and More?," International Tax Program Papers 0605, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  12. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters, in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
  13. Peter Lindert, 2004. "Social Spending and Economic Growth," Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 47(4), pages 6-16, July.
  14. Toye, John, 2000. "Fiscal Crisis and Fiscal Reform in Developing Countries," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 21-44, January.
  15. Friedrich Schneider & Robert Klinglmair, 2004. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we know?," Economics working papers 2004-03, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  16. Richard M. Bird, 2003. "Administrative Dimensions of Tax Reform," International Tax Program Papers 0302, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, revised May 2003.
  17. Richard M. Bird, 2005. "Evaluating Public Expenditures: Does It Matter How They are Financed?," International Tax Program Papers 0506, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  18. Eduardo Lora & Mauricio Cardenas, 2006. "La reforma de las instituciones fiscales en América Latina," Research Department Publications 4458, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  19. Heady, Christopher, 2001. "Taxation Policy in Low-Income Countries," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  20. Graziella Bertocchi, 2007. "The vanishing bequest tax. The Comparative Evolution of Bequest Taxation in Historical Perspective," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 005, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
  21. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2001. "Mexico: An Evaluation of the Main Features of the Tax System," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0112, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  22. Shah, Anwar & Whalley, John, 1991. "Tax Incidence Analysis of Developing Countries: An Alternative View," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(3), pages 535-52, September.
  23. Richard M Bird & Eric M Zolt, 2008. "Tax policy in emerging countries," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 26(1), pages 73-86, February.
  24. Morisset, Jacques & Izquierdo, Alejandro, 1993. "Effects of tax reform on Argentina's revenues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1192, The World Bank.
  25. Michael Keen, 2007. "VAT attacks!," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 14(4), pages 365-381, August.
  26. Richard M. Bird & Enid Slack (ed.), 2004. "International Handbook of Land and Property Taxation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3304, 10.
  27. Tridimas, George & Winer, Stanley L., 2005. "The political economy of government size," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 643-666, September.
  28. Bird,Richard & Gendron,Pierre-Pascal, 2011. "The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107401440, April.
  29. Richard M. Bird & Sally Wallace, 2003. "Is It Really so Hard to Tax the Hard-to-Tax? The Context and Role of Presumptive Taxes," International Tax Program Papers 0307, International Tax Program, Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.
  30. Cnossen, Sijbren (ed.), 2005. "Theory and Practice of Excise Taxation: Smoking, Drinking, Gambling, Polluting, and Driving," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199278596, December.
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