Tax and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Christians, Allison. "Tax and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association,

Here is the Abstract:

In the name of increasing trade and investment to developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, various international organizations have advocated a number of diverse tax reforms. Trade and investment-oriented organizations (such as the WTO and the OECD) focus on eliminating tariffs to reduce the drag on cross-border trade and decreasing income taxes to reduce the drag on cross-border investment. On the other hand, international lending organizations (such as the IMF and the World Bank) focus on introducing national sales or consumption taxes to support government’s requirements as the other forms of taxation decline. This research asks whether these diverse tax reform proposals, when implemented simultaneously, have the desired effect: do they increase trade and investment while adequately supporting government functions?

The research will focus on a group of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the geographic area of focus not only because it is a region that is associated with extreme poverty-related conditions and persistently low levels of foreign trade and investment, but also because the United States (a leading member of all of the international organizations discussed above) has consistently proclaimed its commitment to increasing opportunities for economic growth in these countries through the elimination of trade and investment barriers. With economic growth the driving force of the various tax reforms, this research examines whether the United States and the international organizations have enabled or can enable the subject countries to experience gains in the global economy while simultaneously supporting their own infrastructures.