Informal Taxation in Ungoverned Spaces

Consideration of taxation policies and practices in locations often identified as “ungoverned spaces” leads to an important conclusion: classically “ungoverned spaces” frequently contain forms of taxation—of varying degrees of formality—outside the official state apparatus. This article uses examples of informal taxation and tax-like practices, particularly in the case of Nepal, to critically evaluate the definition and framing of “ungoverned spaces” in the modern age. It argues that although empirical evidence of non-government taxation practices remains limited, the fact that they occur at all raises implications for conventional understandings of political order and state building.