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If Agricultural Land Taxation Is So Efficient, Why Is It So Rarely Used?

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  • Skinner, Jonathan

Abstract

The land tax enjoys a distinguished pedigree in the theoretical literature on tax efficiency, yet it is rarely used as a serious revenue source in rural areas of developing countries. This article considers three drawbacks of the land tax relative to taxes on exports or marketed output: (1) capitalization effects of the land tax impose a large burden on the current generation, (2) land taxation increases the riskiness of net farmer income, and (3) administration of the land tax entails costly informational requirements. This article demonstrates that only the second and third drawbacks are valid economic arguments against the land tax. Simulations based on an economic model of farm behavior suggest that farmers may still prefer a land tax to an export tax despite the increased uncertainty of their after-tax income. Administrative costs are therefore the best explanation of the weak link between the theoretical and practical aspects of land taxation. Copyright 1991 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Skinner, Jonathan, 1991. "If Agricultural Land Taxation Is So Efficient, Why Is It So Rarely Used?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 113-133, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:5:y:1991:i:1:p:113-33
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    Cited by:

    1. Catherine Araujo-Bonjean & Gérard Chambas, 2001. "Le paradoxe de la fiscalité agricole en Afrique subsaharienne," Revue Tiers Monde, Programme National Persée, vol. 42(168), pages 773-788.
    2. Mackinnon, John & Reinikka, Ritva, 2000. "Lessons from Uganda on strategies to fight poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2440, The World Bank.
    3. Black, Jane & de Meza, David, 1997. "Everyone may benefit from subsidising entry to risky occupations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 409-424, December.
    4. Assunção, Juliano Junqueira & Moreira, Humberto Ataíde, 2004. "Land taxes in a Latin American context," FGV/EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 526, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    5. Gregor Schwerhoff & Johanna Wehkamp, 2017. "Export Tariffs Combined with Public Investments as a Forest Conservation Policy Instrument," Working Papers 2017.20, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Gelan, Ayele, 2004. "System-wide Impacts of Agricultural Export Taxes: A Simulation Experiment with Ethiopian Data," MPRA Paper 1490, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. World Bank, 2007. "Paraguay - Real Property Tax : Key to Fiscal Decentralization and Better Land Use, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 7713, The World Bank.
    8. World Bank, 2003. "Brazil : Inequality and Economic Development, Volume 2. Background Papers," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14696, The World Bank.
    9. Valdes, Alberto & Lopez, Ramon E., 1999. "Fighting Rural Poverty In Latin America: New Evidence And Policy," 1999 Annual meeting, August 8-11, Nashville, TN 21581, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    10. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Mick Moore, 2007. "Taxation and State Building: Poor Countries in a Globalised World," CMI Working Papers 11, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    11. Dietmar Wellisch & Jorg Hülshorst, 2000. "A Second-Best Theory of Local Government Policy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 7(1), pages 5-22, February.
    12. Briones, Roehlano M., 2000. "Property Rights Reform in Philippine Agriculture: Framework for Analysis and Review of Recent Experience," Discussion Papers DP 2000-29, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    13. M. Ghaffar Chaudhry, 2001. "Theory of Optimal Taxation and Current Tax Policy in Pakistan’s Agriculture," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 40(4), pages 489-502.
    14. Binswanger, Hans P. & Deininger, Klaus & Feder, Gershon, 1995. "Power, distortions, revolt and reform in agricultural land relations," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 42, pages 2659-2772 Elsevier.
    15. Paudel, Bikash & Pandit, Januka & Reed, Brinton, 2013. "Fragmentation and conversion of agriculture land in Nepal and Land Use Policy 2012," MPRA Paper 58880, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Juliano Junqueira Assunção & Humberto Moreira, 2000. "ITR sem mentiras: um comentário sobre a taxação de terras com informação assimétrica," Textos para discussão 439, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).

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