OGI Kenya

Tax revenue growth and taxpayer engagement.


A heathy public audit is one that receive highest certification for audit opinion available and has less or no audit queries.

Although tax payment is a civic duty, or an obligation for Kenyan citizens
anchored in a framework, many at times, tax-payers do not appreciate the
need to pay taxes from a perspective of civic duty

This is partially due to inadequate knowledge on the statutory responsibility to pay tax, however, it is a justified unwillingness to pay tax that takes precedence, especially at the local level. The implication for this is an inadequate proactive tax-payer participation in taxation as well as in the process of utilizing these taxes which limits the realization of the value of tax paid. Consequently, the government is forced to use force get as many citizens to pay their taxes which results in increased mistrust between governments and citizens. Further, governments incur extra costs in the enforcement of tax laws and policies and the tax administration which eats into the tax revenue collected. 

Overall, growth of tax revenues at the county is negatively impacted. Our main goal under this subprogram area is to strengthen government-tax-payer engagement to improve local tax revenue growth by: a) strengthening tax-payer knowledge on their civic duty to pay their taxes and to follow through (participate) to ensure that they receive value for the money they pay in taxes, b) partner and collaborate with civil society to support the adaptation of participatory systems of county governments to better engage tax-payers and c) generate new knowledge, data and information to support relevant reforms aimed at strengthen transparent and accountable tax revenue growth and management.


The Open Governance Institute and partners, Dr. Brian Wampler, Professor, of Global Studies and Political Science at Boise State University, and Dr. Michael Touchton, Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami, with support of the Institute of Development Studies, are implementing a research project that seeks to better understand how participatory institutions influence taxpayers’ attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours in three key areas related to taxation: reciprocity, accountability, and trust. At the broadest level, we hypothesize that participatory budgeting (PB) programs will generate greater perceptions of reciprocity, accountability, and trust than in counties using other types of participatory institutions. 

Through this research project, we sought to better understand how participatory institutions influence civil society organizations’ (CSOs) and government officials’ interactions, attitudes, and behaviors in three key areas related to taxation: reciprocity, accountability, and trust. At the broadest level, we hypothesized that the presence of a participatory program generates changes in reciprocity, accountability, and trust. Does the presence of participatory institutions alter CSO leaders’ knowledge about public revenues, budgets, and public goods distribution? Is there a change in how CSOs operate within civil society and vis-a-vis governments? If so, does this create a new political and policy environment that changes taxpayers’ attitudes and behaviors?

We narrow our focus to participatory budgeting (PB) programs in Kenya counties in order to answer this question. This is because it is an institutional type that encourages civil society and government to co-generate reciprocity and accountability. We draw from the recent work of Prichard, Custers, Dom, Davenport and Roscitt who define reciprocity as “the idea is that tax revenues will contribute to the provision of valued public goods and services” (Prichard et al., 2019: 34). In addition, they argue that the “demand for accountability captures the desire for an institutionalized voice in shaping how tax and spending decisions are made.” (authors’ emphasis; Prichard et al., 2019.: 39). We seek to understand if PB generates change in taxpayers’ attitudes and behaviors. Some of these taxpayers will be directly involved in PB, but we hypothesize that PB can generate a spill-over effect whereby non-participants also change their attitudes and behaviors related to trust and tax morale.

We hypothesize that the presence of a relatively robust participatory budgeting program will alter the co-production of reciprocity and accountability. We expect an increase in accountability and reciprocity when governments hold open policy-making forums in which citizens learn about the sources of public revenues, how these revenues are collected as well as when they deliberate on how revenue is spent. As reciprocity and accountability expand, so too does trust because citizens and CSOs come to believe that their governments will follow through with their policy and governance commitments to address community needs.

Recent Projects and results

A PB pilot with farmers in
Elgeyo Marakwet County


Through this experiment, we collaborated with the Marakwet Highland Farmers Association to train 20 budget facilitators drawn from five wards in the highland of Marakwet West and Marakwet East sub-counties i.e., Kapyego, Lelan, Sengwer and Charang’any/Chebororwa. 

Action Plan Co-Creation


We engaged 120 participants through the co-creation process and 75% of all government departments through a series of listening tours – community listening tours across the county sub-counties and listening involving governments officials. 

Budget Simplification

The national treasury invited the public to provide input to the PFM Regulations that established the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund (ERF). This was commendable of National Treasury. 

Our other work