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Urban property tax reform : guidelines and recommendations

  • Dillinger, William
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    The property tax is a potentially attractive means of financing municipal government in developing countries. As a revenue source, it can provide local government with access to a broad and expanding tax base. At present, however, yields of urban property taxes in developing countries are extremely low. In part, these low yields reflect failures in the administration of the tax. Procedural improvements alone, however, are unlikely to have a significant, sustained impact on property tax yields. This suggests that the scope of reform must be expanded to address the systems for rate setting and revaluation, and the incentives confronting administrators of the tax. The scope of reform may have to include the entire structure of local finance. Judging from recent experience, providing local government with complete autonomy over tax policy and administration does not always guarantee that the tax will be exploited effectively. Under these conditions, property tax reform can only be achieved in the context of wider restructuring in the sources of municipal revenue. By reducing the extent of arbitrary subsidies between jurisdictions and confronting local taxpayers with the cost of the services they consume, these reforms are consistent with the pursuit of the efficiency objective that is the principal justification for property tax reform.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 710.

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    Date of creation: 30 Jun 1991
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:710
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