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Corruption in Tax Administration: Lessons from Institutional Reforms in Uganda

Odd Fjeldstad ()

No WP 2005: 10, CMI Working Papers from CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway

Abstract: Over the past two decades many developing countries have implemented comprehensive reforms of their tax administrations in order to increase revenue and curb corruption. This paper examines recent experiences in the fight against corruption in the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). It argues that the technocratic remedies supported by donors have underplayed the degree to which progress in tax administration depends upon a thorough 'cultural change' in the public service. The motives of individual actors are often inextricably tied to the interests of the social groups to which they belong. In the URA patronage runs through networks grounded on ties of kinship and community origin. As such, people recognize the benefits of large extended families and strong kinship ties, even as their social and economic aspirations may be indisputably modern. This implies that such social relations may undermine formal bureaucratic structures and positions. If these problems, which are rooted in social norms and patterns of behavior rather than administrative features, are overlooked, the result may be to distort incentives. As a consequence, the government's commitment to reforming the tax administration may also be undermined.

Keywords: Corruption; Incentives; Social; norms; Tax; administration; Tax; evasion; Uganda (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D73 H26 H30 J33 K42 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2005
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-law, nep-pbe, nep-reg and nep-soc
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