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Taxation is a controversial topic in countries throughout the world. Opinions vary among tax practitioners, economists, and citizens in general as to how much tax a government should collect and which segments of the taxpaying population should shoulder the burden. There are disagreements about what even constitutes a tax. However, there is widespread agreement that a government needs to collect some level of revenue to provide goods and services to its citizens.

To collect revenues, governments use a variety of instruments. They derive income from property, charge fees, and impose taxes. For this product, taxes are the compulsory, unrequited payments to the general government sector – a definition adopted by the OECD, the IMF, and the World Bank. The fact that taxes are imposed on taxpayers and not visibly proportional to the benefits or services that taxpayers receive from the government has far-reaching implications that are beyond the scope of this product. However, adopting the OECD’s definition of taxes helps to frame the contents. Though they vary across and within countries, new taxes are similar enough to fit into a few categories – i.e., taxes on income and capital gains, payroll, property, goods and services, and international trade – and to allow practitioners to discuss ‘modern’ tax systems that rely on ‘core’ taxes, such as income taxes, value-added tax (VAT) or general sales tax (GST), excise taxes, property taxes, property transfer taxes, and customs duties. These, save for customs duties, are the types of taxes discussed throughout this product.

This book is a relatively large undertaking. Although it aims to derive the key benchmarks that tax officials, practitioners, and donors can use to evaluate tax administration performance, it also strives to provide sufficient detail to those who may be interested in delving deeper into the tax administration’s functions and operations.