A study conducted by the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) has pointed out the need to adopt Use of Research Evidence (URE) to enable the formulation of fair tax systems in Africa. The study which was conducted in conjunction with the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), focused on 4 countries; Tunisia, Nigeria, Uganda, and Zambia.

The study explores the link between the strategic deployment of research evidence to shape tax policy by civil society organizations (CSOs) and the extent of governments’ reliance on this in designing tax policies. Understanding the role of Civil Society research in influencing government policies towards fair tax systems in Africa illustrates that it is important to get tax policies right to address the continent’s high levels of inequality.

In 2021, the Tax Justice Network through the 2021 edition of the State of Tax Justice revealed that countries globally are losing Ksh. 54.8 trillion (USD 483 billion) in tax annually to global tax abuse. This tax abuse vastly affects lower income countries more severely than higher income countries. While higher income countries lose more tax in absolute number, their tax losses represent a smaller share of their revenues.

The study has recommended the adoption of URE by policy makers to help shape reforms around tax fairness and better policies formulation. Through key findings from the four case studies, the report finds this has only partly been realized. As such, it makes a series of recommendations that urge CSOs and researchers to involve policy makers in all the research processes to allow URE’s uptake. Research evidence should be clear, concise, easy to read, accessible, deemed credible and timely to the policymaking processes.

Both TJNA and IEJ hope that the findings from the report will stimulate the much-needed additional studies regarding how CSOs undertake and use research in their advocacy. Further, they hope that through the provided recommendations, the civil society will begin to better understand how to use evidence effectively to drive policy advocacy initiatives.

Ishmael Zulu, Policy Officer of Tax and Equity at TJNA said, “Our study provides empirical evidence around domestic tax policies and international tax policies, areas that have not been explored by other studies. This approach has powerfully illustrated research evidence role in implementing effective policies. It is important that we apply the lessons identified by the study in future, to improve tax formulation processes for the benefit of the research community and the public in general.”