Tax Disobedience in Cote D'Ivoire: What Role do Poverty, National Identity, and Access to Tax Information Play?

This paper focuses on a particular form of tax non-compliance: tax disobedience, or individuals’ refusal to pay taxes and fees as a form of protest. Specifically, it examines several individual-level factors that might be associated with tax disobedience, including lack of a cash income, assessments of public services and elected representatives, accessibility of information, and effective connections with the Ivoirian nation. Our analyses of data from the Afrobarometer Round 7 survey (2017) suggest that some of the conventional wisdom on tax compliance is not supported in the case of tax disobedience in Côte d’Ivoire. While we find, as expected, that individuals who think state performance is improving in delivering key services are less likely to express a willingness to engage in tax disobedience, we find no such link with lived poverty; poorer Ivoirians are no more or less likely than their wealthier counterparts to endorse tax disobedience. Surprisingly, assessments of elected representatives and of corruption in the tax system are not significantly associated with tax disobedience, either. Perceived access to government information and identification with the Ivoirian nation do show associations with tax disobedience, but these links run counter to our expectations: Citizens who think they could access information held by public bodies are significantly more likely to say they engaged or would engage in tax disobedience, as are people who identify more closely with the nation than with their ethnic group. These analyses suggest the need for more research on a crucial question facing African states: Who pays taxes, and who doesn’t?