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Subnational taxation in developing countries : a review of the literature

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  • Bird, Richard M.

Abstract

This paper reviews the literature on tax assignment in decentralized countries. Ideally, own-source revenues should be sufficient to enable at least the richest subnational governments to finance from their own resources all locally-provided services that primarily benefit local residents. Subnational taxes should also not unduly distort the allocation of resources. Most importantly, to the extent possible subnational governments should be accountable at the margin for financing the expenditures for which they are responsible. Although reality in most countries inevitably falls far short of these ideals, nonetheless there are several taxes that subnational governments in developing countries could use to help ensure that decentralization yields more of the benefits it appears to promise in theory. At the local level, such taxes include property taxes and, especially for larger cities, perhaps also a limited and well-designed local business tax. At the regional level, in addition to taxes on vehicles, governments in some countries may be able to utilize any or all of the following -- a payroll tax; a simple surcharge on the central personal income tax; and a sales tax, in some cases perhaps taking the form of a well-designed regional value-added tax. The"best"package for any particular country or subnational government is likely to be not only context-specific and path-dependent, but also highly sensitive to the balance struck between different political and economic factors and interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Bird, Richard M., 2010. "Subnational taxation in developing countries : a review of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5450, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5450
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jean-Fran├žois BRUN & Maria EL KHDARI, 2016. "The Incentive Effects of Conditional and Unconditional Transfers on Local Own Revenue Generation: Empirical Evidence from Moroccan Municipalities," Working Papers 201606, CERDI.
    2. Paul Smoke, 2014. "Why theory and practice are different: The gap between principles and reality in subnational revenue systems," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 9, pages 287-325 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Kalkuhl, Matthias & Fernandez Milan, Blanca & Schwerhoff, Gregor & Jakob, Michael & Hahnen, Maren & Creutzig, Felix, 2017. "Fiscal Instruments for Sustainable Development: The Case of Land Taxes," MPRA Paper 78652, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. repec:rss:jnljms:v3i4p1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subnational Economic Development; Public Sector Economics; Taxation&Subsidies; Debt Markets; Public&Municipal Finance;

    JEL classification:

    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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