AD329: Tanzania Revenue Authority earns good marks but still earning citizens’ trust

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Veronica Kakengi and Derick Msafiri

Tax revenues play an essential role in financing government expenditures, which can benefit citizens through effective public services, infrastructure, and development (Bird, 2010). This requires that citizens pay their taxes and that the government administer taxes effectively and efficiently – requirements that represent significant challenges in many countries (Saad, 2014).

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is charged with assessing, collecting, and accounting for all tax revenues in the country. Between 2006 and 2011, the World Bank-supported Tax Modernization Project claimed remarkable progress, including almost tripling revenue collections, through technology upgrades, training, taxpayer education, and revised tax rates (World Bank, 2017). Even so, analysts say the TRA remains vulnerable to tax evasion and barriers to tax compliance, difficulty in accounting for the informal sector, and corruption (Katera, & Ngalewa, 2009; Fjeldstad, Kagoma, Mdee, Sjursen, & Somville, 2018; Miyandazi, 2019).

Over the past two years, the government has introduced tax-awareness campaigns in secondary schools and plans to incorporate tax education in the primary school curriculum (Citizen News, 2018;, 2018), in addition to using news media such as television and radio to provide tax education.

Data from the most recent national survey by Afrobarometer show that most Tanzanians are aware of the TRA, support its right to make people pay taxes, and think it is effective in collecting taxes and enforcing tax codes. Perceptions that tax officials are corrupt have decreased substantially, but even so, fewer than half of citizens say they trust the TRA.