The more a government is effective and fair, the more legitimacy that government is likely to attain, and the more it will possess the potential to elicit compliance without excessive monitoring or punitive action. We explore this proposition using contemporary survey data from sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, we are interested in the conditions that promote popular legitimating beliefs that provide support for governments that are attempting to serve their entire populations competently and in a manner that is relatively impartial and equitable. This article provides empirical support for a long hypothesized link between the extent of government effectiveness, procedural justice, and citizens' willingness to defer to governmental tax authority. The sample, drawn from a continuum of developing societies in Africa, allows us to analyze the impact of variations in government effectiveness and citizen perceptions of fairness on the sense of obligation to comply with the tax authorities, our indicator for legitimating beliefs.