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​​Learning retreat on sub-national taxation and financing

8 to 11 March 2016, Brighton, United Kingdom


The learning retreat explores the topic of sub-national financing, including taxation, and particularly property taxation, informal taxation, and inter-governmental transfers, amongst others. The retreat's objective was to expose participants to current thinking and research in the field. HERE you find a list with links to the workshop documents.

Day 1 focused on the topic of fiscal decentralisation and sub-national financing.Giulia Mascagni from the Institute of Development Studies IDS gave a broad background on the conceptual and theoretical issues around fiscal decentralisation. She then looked at how inter- governmental transfers can be designed to ensure a stable stream of resources for lower-tier governments, while not discouraging their own revenue generation efforts [PDF]. Andres Mejia Acosta from King's College London looked at the existing criteria and reform modalities adopted to allocate and use extractive industry related revenues, and examined the political bargains that enabled such distribution [PPT]. Paul Smoke from New York University reviewed key principles, considered neglected factors that are central to effective action, and outlined productive approaches and experiences to improving local revenue generation [PPT].

Day 2 focused specifically on the role of the donors as catalyst of fiscal decentralisation.Nara Monkam from the African Tax Administration Forum ATAF looked at the state of fiscal decentralisation reforms in different African countires and the role of the donors in assisting African countries in designing and implementing their fiscal decentralisation processes [PPT]. Christopher Nell, Alexander Grunauer, Saranda Cana-Pruthi from IDS and SDC highlighted practical problems and obstacles linked to the collection of property tax, and pragmatic ways in which local tax revenues can be boosted [PDF]. Alex Shankland from IDS discussed how participatory budgeting in particular and social accountability initiatives in general influence relations between citizens/taxpayers and municipal government [PPT]. Richard Crook from IDS examined empirically the general assumption that maximising locally-raised revenue sources will help to enhance accountability through a closer and more legitimate relationship between the government authority and local citizen [PPT].

Day 3 focused on informal taxation systems, the taxation biased against the interest of women, and potential conflicts due to tax systems.Jean-Pierre Tranchant from IDS examined the question "Is decentralisation an effective device for reducing or preventing ethnic violence?" [PPT] [PDF]. Wilson Prichard from the University of Toronto discussed informal taxation. The terminology can refer both to ways to include the informal sector in the tax net, and to practices of resource extraction that are carried out by informal actors, rather than according to statutory state laws [PPT][PDF]. Finally, Anuradha Joshi from SDC reviewed what is known about the gender implications of tax and examine the ways in which gender and taxation are linked [PPT] [PDF].

Day 4 focused on property taxation.Tom Goodfellow from the University of Sheffield talked about the challenges of introducing an urban property tax. It is one of the most underutilised forms of taxation in less developed countries, as well as being potentially the most progressive tax available to local governments [PPT] [PDF]. Nara Monkam from ATAF continued this thought by looking at the use of property taxes in African countries. This type of tax could represent an important, if not the best, source of stable revenue at the subnational level in both developed and developing countries [PPT]. Finally, Mick Moore from IDS illustrated the property tax collection on the basis of a case study from Pakistan [PDF].

You can read the WORKSHOP REPORT here. Here below are all documents relevant to the workshop. First, the background documents, then the workshop presentations.


 Key Workshop Documents

  • A. Final Report
  • Day01

      The Impact and Effectiveness of Accountability and Transparency Initiatives

      IDS, Overseas Development Institute | 2013 | Key Reading

      The Governance of Natural Resources - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      The Challenge Of Local Government Financing In Developing Countries

      UN-Habitat | | Key Reading

      This report documents challenges local governments in developing countries are facing in mobilizing revenues from local resources and solutions to these challenges as well as political economy challenges facing local governments in generating revenues from within. - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      Subnational Taxes in Developing Countries: The Way Forward

      Public Financial Publications, Inc. | 2008 | Key Reading

      In most developing countries there are potentially sound and productive taxes that subnational governments could use: personal income tax surcharges, property taxes, taxes on the use of motor vehicles, payroll taxes, and even subnational value-added taxes and local ‘‘business value’’ taxes may all be viable options in particular countries. This review paper pulls together evidence to suggest the way forward. - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      Subnational Taxation In Developing Countries: A Rreview Of The Literature

      Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto | 2011 | Key Reading

      This paper reviews the literature on tax assignment in decentralised countries. - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      Political Economy of Natural Resource Revenue Sharing in Indonesia

      LSE, World Bank | 2012 | Key Reading

      This paper examines the asymmetric approaches to sharing natural resource revenues in Indonesia. - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers

      University of Toronto | 2002 | Key Reading

      International Lessons for Developing Countries - This paper reviews the central issues that arise in designing intergovernmental transfers and surveys the approaches adopted in a number of countries, with special emphasis on developing countries. - (Day 1 of the retreat)


      Fiscal Decentralization in Developing and Transition Economies

      World Bank | 2004 | Key Reading

      Progress, Problems, and the Promise. This paper examines the reasons for the rekindling of interest in fiscal rearrangements in DTEs and reviews the progress to-date by using a systemic framework. It draws general and institutional lessons to advance the agenda for creating an enabling environment for responsive and accountable local governance. - (Day 2 of the retreat)

  • Day02

      The Pillars Of Fiscal Decentralization

      CAF | 2008 | Key Reading

      This paper is about the art and science of building a fiscal decentralization system. It is a science because there is a well received theory on which to build a devolution of budget responsibilities to subnational governments. It is an art because the application of this theory is not a straightforward matter and few countries do things the same way. - (Day 2 of the retreat)


      Tax Morale and Institutions

      CREMA | 2003 | Key Reading

      This paper analyses the impact of direct democracy, trust in government, the court and the legal system, and federalism on tax morale. In the tax compliance literature it is novel to analyse tax morale as dependent variable and to systematically analyse the effects of formal and informal institutions in Switzerland, a country where participation rights and the degree of federalism vary across different cantons. - (Day 2 of the retreat)


      Participatory Budgeting in a Competitive- Authoritarian Regime

      Cadernos IESE | 2014 | Key Reading

      A Case Study (Maputo, Mozambique) - (Day 2 of the retreat)


      Improving Social Well- Being Through New Democratic Institutions

      Boise State University | 2014 | Key Reading

      We evaluate the role of a new type of democratic institution, participatory budgeting (PB), for improving citizens’ well-being. - (Day 2 of the retreat)


      Development As Collective Action Problem

      Overseas Development Institute | 2012 | Key Reading

      Addressing the real challenges of African governance - (Day 2 of the retreat)


      ‘No‐party’ politics and local democracy in Africa

      IDS | 2016 | Key Reading

      Rawlings’ Ghana in the 1990s and the ‘Ugandan model’ - (Day 2 of the retreat)

  • Day03

      Taxing the Informal Economy

      The Journal of Development Studies | 2014 | Key Reading

      The Current State of Knowledge and Agendas for Future Research - (Day 3 of the retreat)


      Gender Impacts of Government Revenue Collection

      COMMONWEALTH SECRETARIAT | 2004 | Key Reading

      The Case of Taxation - (Day 3 of the retreat)


      The gender dimensions of expenditure and revenue policy and systems

      BRIDGE development - gender | 2015 | Key Reading

      This brief discusses gender dimensions of both the design and implementation of fiscal policies with the aim of identifying approaches that are likely to advance equality between different groups of women and men. - (Day 3 of the retreat)


      Assessing The Merits Of Decentralization As A Conflict Mitigation Strategy

      Development Alternatives, Inc. | | Key Reading

      This paper reviews the theory and empirics of the intersection between decentralization and internal conflict. It assesses the aggregate relationship between various facets of decentralization and ethnic and civil conflict since 1995 using cross-national analysis focused on low-income countries. - (Day 3 of the retreat)