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CGD Policy Blogs

 

COVID-19 and Seizing the Opportunity for Reforming Tax Expenditures in Africa

In this blog post, we argue that the COVID-19 crisis has made it imperative for developing countries to begin reforming their tax systems to generate more resources domestically—reforms which they have postponed until now because of vested interests. Reforming tax expenditures would not only generate additional revenues, but it would also improve taxpayer perception of the fairness of the tax system and enhance budget transparency.

Image of citizens for fiscal policy

While Creating Fiscal Space for COVID-19 in Developing Countries, Be Sure to Consult Civil Society

Even as the COVID-19 curve begins to flatten in the Northern Hemisphere, the developing world is just starting to feel its onslaught. Just as in the United States, where some of the most effective responses to the global pandemic are generated locally, the success of developing countries will also be determined by the actions of local leaders, citizens, and organizations—including fiscal responses.

Chart showing estimates for additional spending by 2030

Tax Revenues in Africa Will be Insufficient to Finance Development Goals

The IMF estimates that on average, low-income countries (LIC) will need additional resources amounting to 15.4 percent of GDP to finance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education, health, roads, electricity, and water by 2030. These resource requirements are even greater in sub-Saharan Africa than in a typical LIC: the median sub-Saharan African country faces additional spending of about 19 percent of GDP. In the average LIC, the IMF estimates that of the required additional financing, 5 percentage points of GDP would have to come from domestic taxes.

Image of multiple banknotes for international taxation

Sub-Saharan Africa and International Taxation: Time for Unilateral Action?

While sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have made some progress in collecting more taxes domestically in the last 20 years, international tax issues remain a significant concern for these and other developing countries, reflecting aggressive tax planning by multinational enterprises (MNEs) and the international initiatives designed by G20-OCED countries in response. Drawing on a new CGD paper on international taxation and developing countries, we argue here that the time has come for SSA countries, and developing countries in general, to take unilateral action.

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