Since 1995 the authors have worked on a series of property taxation projects in South Africa, funded in part by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. South Africa envisions extending value-based property taxation, long established in white urban areas, into rural areas and former black local authority areas. Special problems arise in rural tribal areas, however, where continued traditional communal land ownership means property markets will not develop to provide values.
This report summarizes what was learned from a workshop held in a tribal area of Limpopo Province, which sought to assist local residents in identifying land attributes that affect the relative desirability of different plots, and to apply those criteria to selected plots as a step toward developing taxable values that are reasonable proxies for market value. Although the focus here is on South Africa, the approach and lessons learned have broader applications in other developing and transitional countries where a modern, mature property tax based on market values is not feasible.