Faculty members and alumni of the Duke Center for International Development (DCID) recently participated in a two-day workshop on tax incentives and base protection held by the United Nations’ Financing for Development Office.

The workshop, held April 23-24 at the UN Headquarters in New York, was designed to provide government officials with information and tools to decide whether to use tax incentives to attract investment and how to best design and administer these incentives.

Peter Barnes, senior fellow at DCID, led the workshop along with Eric Zolt of the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Law School, Duanjie Chen of the University of Calgary in Canada, and Peter Harris of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

“Tax incentives can be a valuable tool for attracting investment, but if the incentives are not properly designed, countries can lose significant tax revenue without creating any meaningful job growth or economic development,” Barnes said. “The purpose of this workshop was to help countries think about design issues with respect to tax incentives, in order to maximize the benefits of these incentive programs.”

Khamis “Shibu” Mwalim, manager of the Tanzania Revenue Authority and graduate of both the Master of International Development Policy program (with a specialization in International Taxation) and Transfer Pricing programs at DCID, was one of approximately 30 country representatives who attended the workshop.

“It gave us the big picture of tax administration – how we can mobilize our resources and design a tax incentive regime to create a win-win situation for everyone involved,” Mwalim said.

Rubi Sugana, MIDP alumnus and associate in research at DCID, also participated. Sugana is currently working with Indonesia to analyze the country’s tax incentives. About 10 members of the UN tax committee and representatives from international organizations were also in attendance.  

The Financing for Development Office, which was established within the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 2003, is focused on capacity development, particularly for developing countries.

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