Tax expenditures and progress to the Sustainable Development Goals

Michael Masiya*, Stephen Hall, Stuart William Murray, Rachel Etter-Phoya, Eilish Anne Hannah, Bernadette Ann-Marie O'Hare

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports the impact of governments having additional revenue equivalent to tax expenditures on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in 97 countries. The study draws data on revenue foregone from the Global Tax Expenditure Database. To analyze the potential of an increase in government revenue equivalent to the revenue foregone, the study uses the Government Revenue and Development Estimations modeling. The study finds that if governments had additional revenue equivalent to tax expenditures: an additional 17 million children would attend school (13.62% currently out of school), an additional 70 million people would use basic water (23% of those without access), 146 million would use basic sanitation (20% of those without access), 181,000 children would survive (13% of children who currently die), and 12,000 mothers would survive (16% of mothers who currently die). Critically, there would be improvements in governance indicators in all regions. Foregone revenue from tax expenditures could increase access to public services for millions, which is the most effective tool for reducing inequality and driving progress toward sustainable development. The massive opportunity costs reported here require all governments to report and justify their annual tax expenditure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainable Development
VolumeEarly View
Early online date25 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024


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