Tax and Development: A Scoping Study of Funding Opportunities
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Taxation is a rapidly evolving area of programming and policy work for donors, a powerful lever for those working on sustainable development, inequality, and governance relationships between governments, companies and citizens. The good news is that there is unprecedented momentum for improvement, with rising public and political pressure for change and concrete openings for policy reform. But the challenging news is that these opportunities have now outpaced current funding levels, and could be squandered without adequate support.

Taxation work needs a more strategic funding base. In recognition of this, TAI commissioned this scoping study to inform decision-making by funders interested in both strengthening tax systems in developing countries and in policy reforms in the sphere of international taxation.

The report includes a brief introduction to taxation issues, profiles key operational actors and funders, assesses progress and concerns, and then presents the strategic opportunities for donors interested in funding tax work.

The report aims to be a very practical tool, so after summarising the funding options in a 1-page diagram, it lays out each in more detail, discussing potential impacts and risk, relevant geographic and policy opportunities, and possible actors that could lead in this work. It addresses potential priorities at national level (to develop domestic action and capacity), at international level (for global policy progress) and with key stakeholder groups (to build support and momentum).

As one interviewee put it, there is “a window for more progress that is wide open” but “we shouldn’t assume it will stay wide open and shouldn’t feel comfortable this will always be the case”. The call from actors in this area was for funders to seize the momentum, not just in terms of supporting the most immediate activities, but acting now to prepare what is fertile terrain for the long term.