Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. Needless to say, nowhere is it possible to escape the former; but it’s all too easy to shun taxes in South Sudan. The system as it presently stands is too complex, difficult to understand, enforce, and comply with. Meanwhile, abundant oil rents and aid – in combination with an underdeveloped economy – threaten to undermine incentives to tax in the first place.
Though we all may despise paying them and no matter how dry one might find the subject, taxes are important – and arguably central – to state-building efforts, or the arduous process of establishing mutually accountable, legitimate, public institutions. Indeed, beyond bankrolling basic public goods and services, taxes can help forge more accountable, responsive, and representative governments.