Zuma’s Corruption Stalls Popular Trust in South African Taxation


In parts of Africa where governments are weak, corrupt, and lack popular legitimacy, individuals seek to avoid paying their taxes. Motivation for tax non-payment ranges from being a form of protest to there being a government with little or no ability to enforce penalties. Instead of taxes paid by individuals, states often rely on revenue that is easy to collect, such as customs and excise duties, sales taxes, and from taxes owed by big corporations that are engaged in extractive industries, often in partnerships with the government. The general willingness of people to pay individual taxes is a useful marker of the perceived legitimacy of a government and the state. In apartheid South Africa, few non-whites paid taxes, other than value added taxes (VAT), a form of sales tax that falls…

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