The reality of sub-national taxation in conflict-affected states: The incidence and implications of informal taxation

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Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 20184:00PM - 5:30PM208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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Every year, IMFG awards two fellowships to graduate students at the University of Toronto who are undertaking doctoral or master’s level work in areas related to municipal finance and governance. Come learn more about the research for one of this year’s fellowship winners.

Taxation is at the centre of the relationship between state and society. In conflict-affected countries, it can be especially critical to rebuilding infrastructure and ensuring sustainable peace and development. When policymakers and international donors approach the task of rebuilding fiscal systems, they often do so with a narrow conception of tax reform in mind – one that is often based on the experience of developed countries.

The reality in many contexts is critically different. Informal taxes and means of financing public goods often dominate at the local level, while the role of non-state actors in supporting or competing with state finances is fundamental to the success of outcomes. Building on over five years of field research in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia, this presentation will demonstrate the significance of informal and non-state taxation, explore the implications for formal state and institution building, and consider options for how formal and informal institutions may work together to achieve more sustainable sub-national revenue collection outcomes.

Speaker Vanessa van den Boogaard is the recipient of the 2017-2018 IMFG Graduate Fellowship in Municipal Finance and Governance. She is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. She holds a Master of Global Affairs and has worked for the Institute of Development Studies, the Open Society Foundations, the Danish Refugee Council, the International Centre for Tax and Development, and the World Bank. She has led multi-method research projects in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, and Somalia, and currently serves as an Advisor to the Tax and Gender Program at the Institute of Development Studies and as a Junior Fellow at Massey College.

Seating is limited for the event, and registration is required. Register for this event


Elisa Tate
(416) 946-3688


Vanessa van den Boogaard
2017-2018 IMFG Graduate Fellow in Municipal Finance and Governance

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