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Accepted Paper:

Between Tax and Charity: Zakat in times of COVID-19  

Authors:

Max Gallien (IDS)
Soukayna Remmal (International Centre for Tax and Development)
Vanessa van den Boogaard (International Centre for Tax and Development)
Umair Javed (Lahore University of Management Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

In many Muslim-majority states, zakat makes up a significant part of social spending, and has again been highlighted in funding Covid relief. Based on original survey data of over 5,000 respondents in Egypt, Pakistan, and Morocco, this project explores zakat's position between charity and tax.

Paper long abstract:

In order to soften the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, states have introduced formal tax reliefs in various forms. At the same time, they are encouraging charitable contributions in order to finance relief efforts. In Muslim-majority states, zakat payments make up a significant part of the fiscal politics of social spending – the annual global zakat pool is estimated between 200 billion and 1 trillion USD. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, some states have been encouraging citizens to increase charitable contributions, and tied zakat distribution to pandemic relief. This brings into focus long-standing questions about the position of zakat between charity, formal, and informal taxation. Based on original survey data of over 5,000 respondents in Egypt, Pakistan, and Morocco, the project examines how different forms of state involvement in zakat collection have shaped public attitudes towards taxation, charity and the state during a pandemic.

Panel P42
COVID-19 and taxation: Implications for equity in low-income countries