New video on Taxation as a Means to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals

Dear Friends,

As this crazy year winds down, we’ve been catching up on editing the videos from the two International Conferences on Taxpayer Rights we held online this year.  Last week we posted the panel discussion Taxpayer Rights as Human Rights from our South Africa conference, and today we are sharing the video of the conference’s second panel, Taxation as a Means to Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in African and Other Developing Countries.  This video is a must-watch for anyone interested in taxpayer rights and human rights.


The Center for Taxpayer Rights promotes the study of taxation and tax administration from the perspective of many disciplines, beyond law, accounting, and economics.  Toward that end, the Center has invited psychologists, anthropologists, and historians to discuss their work at its conferences and Tax Chats!  Within the discipline of law, we have tried to expand the framework within which taxation is viewed, including applying a rights-based analysis.  The video we release today incorporates all these aspects.

The panel discussion builds on the concept of taxpayer rights as human rights and explores the fundamental purpose of taxation – that is, as a means for states to raise revenue in order to meet the needs of their citizens by providing public goods and services.  Taxation is the most sustainable way for states to finance economic development in order to achieve basic human rights — the right to work, to have access to food, clothing, housing, medical care, education — in short, human dignity.  The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals provides a framework for assessing whether taxation and tax administration are achieving their fundamental purpose.

In order of appearance, the members of the panel are:

  • Sansia Blackmore (moderator), African Tax Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa;
  • Johanna Mugler, Institute of Social Anthropology, Bern University, Switzerland ;
  • Annet Oguttu, African Tax Institute and Department of Taxation, University of Pretoria, South Africa; and
  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway; African Tax Institute, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

I’m not going to detail all that these esteemed panelists discuss – you just need to watch it.  It will give you much to think about; I can say that viewing it again, while editing, I heard and learned much that I missed the first time I listened in at the conference.  The topics range from an anthropological analysis of taxation (asking questions such as “How do people share?  With whom do they share, what and when, and for what reasons?”), to an exploration of domestic revenue generation in Africa as essential to its economic development and achieving SDGs, to an exploration of state-building and taxation, including the impact of bribes, corruption, illicit financial flows, and wasteful spending on public support for taxation.  The panel also discusses the pressures on tax administrations, post-COVID, to aggressively collect taxes in order to make up for revenue shortfalls.

And befitting this last Taxpayer Rights Digest of this very challenging year, the video contains a guest appearance by my Siamese kitten, Marais, at the beginning and end of the video.  She serves as Janus, starting the video with her face away from the camera, looking backward, and ending the video looking forward, straight into the camera, towards the new year.  She is incorrigible.

We have lots planned for next year – another International Conference on Taxpayer Rights, more Tax Chats!, more videos to be released.  As the year comes to an end, we encourage you all to support our work, to the extent you are able.

In the meantime, take care, enjoy the video, and stay safe.  See you in 2022!

All the best,


Nina E. Olson
Executive Director