Digitalising the fiscal contract: an interdisciplinary framework for empirical inquiry

Digitalising the fiscal contract: an interdisciplinary framework for empirical inquiry

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von Haldenwang, Christian
Discussion Paper 20/2020

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-96021-132-7
Price: 6 €

Tax systems worldwide face far-reaching transformations through the implementation of digital technologies. A growing body of academic literature addresses these transformations and explores how digitalisation is affecting the operations and efficiency of revenue agencies, and taxpayer compliance. However, the literature largely ignores the diversified body of research regarding the characteristics, dynamics and determinants of the “fiscal contract”. This term describes an implicit agreement between state and both citizen and business taxpayers that associates individual tax compliance and the distribution of the tax burden within a society with public service delivery and access to political decision-making.
Fiscal contract theory helps us to understand that taxation is primarily a political – not a technical – issue. But what happens if some technologies cause profound power shifts in the relationship between revenue authorities and taxpayers? Will they trigger the emergence of broad-based, stable fiscal contracts, or might tax system digitalisation increase exclusion and decrease stability? What drives these changes? How do digital technologies in the tax systems of developing countries affect their fiscal contracts?
This paper seeks to lay the conceptual groundwork at the intersection of two dynamic academic debates. Based on a thorough review of the literature, it proposes a research framework that combines economic, public management and political science perspectives in order to generate knowledge about institutional, attitudinal and behavioural responses to tax system digitalisation.

About the author

Haldenwang, Christian von

Political Scientist


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