Property Tax in Latin America

Property Tax in Latin America

Property tax has been introduced in a large majority of countries, but is structured and administered in a great variety of ways in different jurisdictions. Little information is currently available regarding the performance of property taxes in Latin America. More importantly, even the public authorities of these countries have difficulty bringing together knowledge of the main characteristics of the systems and of the reform initiatives that are underway.

In order to contribute to the organization and dissemination of information in this area, published are the results of a study involving a comparative analysis of property tax in Latin America. The study is financed by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

The relevance of the study resides in the fact that it will help increase awareness of the ways in which property tax is administered in Latin America. The comparison between countries, regions and localities is significant to the degree that it contributes toward the identification of areas where improvements need to be made. It is important to note that the systematic internal evaluation of the tax is essential for an understanding of the factors that lead to changes in its performance in different periods, thus allowing for the monitoring of governmental activity by public agencies and civil society.

The data collected, the results of the analyses carried out, and the links to access the legislation that refers to the different jurisdictions investigated are available here. The expansion of the database will be carried out through the incorporation of new members to the network, and the updating of the data of each jurisdiction must be carried out, on an annual basis, by the members of the network. The information referring to the past will be stored, to allow the study of the evolution of existing systems. Access to the analyses, aggregate data, legislation and other available materials will be maintained.

Access to Data

This section presents data collected on the property tax. The data included was obtained through legislative review, web-based research and, primarily, information provided by tax administrators through the online questionnaires available in Portuguese and Spanish and/or updating of the tables that include the questionnaire results. The tables are organized in five groups including data on (I) Respondents; (II) General information on the jurisdictions represented; (III) Legal framework; (IV) Administrative aspects of property taxation; and (V) Tax performance. There is also a summary of the basic characteristics of the countries with regard to their administrative division and economic and demographic indicators.

I Country Facts

II General Information

III Legal Framework

1. Legislation

2. Competencies

3. Tax Authority and Taxpayer

4. Taxable Event

5. Tax Base

6. Rates

7. Exemptions and Concessions

IV Administrative Aspects

1. Tax Assessment

2. Property Cadastre

3. Publications, Operating Resources and Internet

4. Property Valuation

5. Objections and Appeals

6. Penalties

7. Distribution, Incentives and Use of Resources

8. Changes in the Property Tax

V Tax Performance

1. Tax Collection

2. Tax Benefits: Immunities, Exemptions and Concessions

3. Property Cadastre

4. Property Assessment

5. Objections and Appeals


This section presents four groups of indicators to measure the performance of the property tax in the countries and jurisdictions studied: 1 – Importance of the tax in terms of revenue; 2 – Efficiency of tax collection; 3 – Property cadastre; 4 – Assessment performance. The data used to calculate the indicators were taken from the section “Access to Data” and complemented through Internet research.

Group 1: Importance of the Tax in terms of Revenue

1.1 Revenue collected from property tax as a percentage of GDP in the Country (%)

1.2 Revenue collected from property tax as a percentage of GDP in the Jurisdiction (%)

1.3 Revenue collected from property tax as a percentage of GDP in the State/Province (%)

1.4 Revenue collected from property tax as a percentage of GDP in the Municipality (%)

1.5 Revenue collected from property tax per capita in US$ in the Country

1.6 Revenue collected from property tax per capita in US$ in the State/Province

1.7 Revenue collected from property tax per capita in US$ in the Municipality

1.8 Revenue collected from property tax in the Country as a percentage of national tax burden (%)

1.9 Revenue collected from property tax as a percentage of the tax burden in the Jurisdiction (%)

Group 2: Efficiency of Tax Collection

2.1 Administrative cost as a percentage of revenue expected to be collected from property tax in the Jurisdiction, considering no tax evasion (%)

2.2 Property tax collection ratio, that is, revenue collected from property tax spontaneously in the Jurisdiction as a percentage of revenue that should have been collected in case of no tax evasion (%)

Group 3: Property Cadastre

3.1 Composition of property recorded in the cadastre by property-type (%)

3.2 Estimate of the coverage ratio of the cadastre (%)

Group 4: Assessment Performance

4.1 Assessment level in percentage (%)

4.2 Average value of assessed values (US$)

Summary of Results

This article presents the main results of a survey on the property tax, based on data collected up to September 2008, carried out in Latin America and financed by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. The study evaluates the main characteristics of the tax in several jurisdictions in Latin America, such as its main provisions, administrative aspects and the importance of the tax as a source of income.

Summary of Results

References and Resources

Glossary of Terms


Informational Resources