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Tax Innovations and Public Revenues in Africa

Journal article
Authors Pelle Ahlerup
Thushyanthan Baskaran
Arne Bigsten
Published in Journal of Development Studies
Volume 51
Issue 6
Pages 689-706
ISSN 0022-0388
Publication year 2015
Published at Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
Department of Economics
Pages 689-706
Language en
Keywords Africa, tax revenues, Value added tax, Autonomous revenue authorities
Subject categories Economics and Business


We study the effect of two tax innovations – value added taxes (VAT) and autonomous revenue authorities (ARA) – on tax revenues in sub-Saharan Africa. The dataset consists of 47 countries over 1980–2010. We find that VATs have no effect on total tax revenues, neither in the short- nor in the long-run. ARAs lead to higher tax revenues in the short- and medium-run, but the effect dissipates over time. The main conclusion is that tax innovations are not a panacea to overcome the revenue shortages in African countries, but they are helpful in the short- and medium-run.

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