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

  • Skinner, Jonathan

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.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 5 (1991)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 113-33

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:5:y:1991:i:1:p:113-33
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