Property Taxation and Political Accountability: Evidence from a Rule-based expansion of tax demands in Sierra Leone
Does property taxation increase demands for political accountability? A distinguished literature in Political Economy holds that citizens facing larger tax burdens should be more willing to hold political representatives accountable. We take up this question in the context of a city-wide property tax reform in Freetown, Sierra Leone that significantly broadened the tax base. For causal leverage, we exploit the existence of a sharp discontinuity in who was taxed during the initial stage of this reform. In 2020, only properties in the top 50% in terms of assessed property tax were issued tax bills; properties below this threshold did not receive a property tax bill. We use administrative data to sample property owners at the threshold, collect baseline survey data on political attitudes and self-reported political behavior before tax bills are delivered, then collect endline data in the months after the delivery of tax bills.