The Assignment of the Property Tax: Should Developing Countries Follow the Conventional Wisdom?
The goal of this paper is to revisit the issue of the appropriate assignment of the property tax within the context of a fiscally decentralized system. We examine whether the conventional wisdom of assigning property taxes to local governments is the right one. Particularly in light of the difficulties many developing countries have with properly administering the property tax and the apparent reluctance of local authorities to utilize the revenue potential of the property tax. Because the assignment of the property tax involves a number of functions, such as defining the tax base, setting the tax rate, as well as many administrative functions, like registration, assessment, and collections, we also examine the wisdom of assigning all of these functions to local governments versus assigning some of these functions to local governments and the remaining functions to higher level governments. In the latter case, the important issue is which functions are properly assigned to local governments.
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