This project seeks to understand concrete steps that can be taken to build state capacity and foster accountability in Sierra Leone. Prominent policy initiatives (e.g., “Oil to Cash”) have argued that direct taxation requires governments to build bureaucracies and to expend resources on their citizens’ needs; effective states need both the capacity to enforce taxes and the goodwill to inspire tax compliance. Kono District Council has relayed to our research team that other District Councils (ex. Kailahun) are watching closely for lessons learned on revenue mobilisation. Moreover, this project complements efforts by members of our research team to support the Freetown City Council in their revenue mobilisation efforts.
We will use a unique experimental design to randomise tax collection. By subsidising collectors’ travel expenses, we plan to work with the Kono District Council to extend the extensive margin of taxation. By randomising the locations that we subsidise travel to, we can create an instrument (i.e., encouragement) for what routes collectors will focus their efforts on and, thus, what villages will be taxed.