Double standards

The tax-to-GDP ratio does not reflect the fairness of a tax system. In most member countries of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), an umbrella organisation of rich nations, it has remained relatively constant in the past three decades. However, a big shift took place from direct to indirect taxes, which led to a redistribution of the tax burden from the better-off to the worse-off. This example shows that fairness depends on what kind of taxes are collected.

African countries could raise their tax-to-GDP ratio by collecting more money from the poor, but that would compound problems of inequality. The aim must be to establish equitable tax systems that make all citizens pay according to their ability to pay. The higher one’s income is, the higher the share of taxes one pays should be. That kind of tax system is called progressive. More­over, African governments must do

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