Local versus central taxation: Evidence from property tax collection in the DRC

How do states in a low-tax, low-capacity equilibrium spur citizens to start paying taxes? We conduct a field experiment embedded in a property tax campaign in Kananga, a large city in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In collaboration with the Provincial Government of Kasai Central, we randomly assign the city’s neighborhoods to central tax collection, conducted by agents of the provincial tax ministry, or local tax collection, conducted by local city chiefs. We also implement two hybrid collection interventions and cross-randomized information treatments to elicit the mechanisms through which central and local tax collection shape citizen compliance. In addition to tax compliance, we examine a range of other outcomes, such as corruption, engagement with the formal state, and the accountability of city chiefs.