Mass Valuation for Land Taxation in Transitional Economies

Jane H. Malme, April 1, 2004

Over the past decade, the Lincoln Institute has developed and presented many courses on the interaction of land and tax policies and on the development of value-based land and real property taxation for policy makers and senior government officials from countries transitioning to market economies in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltics. These courses address the economic and legal basis for value-based taxes as well as practical problems in their implementation.

As private property markets evolve, property changes hands and new wealth is invested in real estate. The introduction of ad valorem taxation is a natural step in the development of market-based economies. With economic growth and development, the revenue capacity of a value-based tax increases, and the tax can contribute to other important transition objectives such as privatization, government decentralization, infrastructure improvement and efficient land use. Nevertheless, the introduction of value-based taxation confronts both political and practical difficulties in developing an appropriate legal and administrative framework, as well as effective valuation, appeals and information systems.

The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been in the forefront of implementing value-based taxes on land (Malme and Youngman 2001). Estonia was the first of these new independent states to recognize the benefits of land taxation and to introduce a value-based land tax in 1993, followed by Latvia in 1998. Lithuania has been a leader in integrating and unifying real property cadastral, registration and valuation systems to strengthen nascent real estate markets and support real property taxation. Progress toward value-based taxation in Lithuania began with the integration of real property administrative units and the development of an automated central database of real property information in a self-funded state enterprise known as the State Land Cadastre and Register (SLCR). In 2001 the Ministry of Finance funded the SLCR to plan and develop a mass valuation system in preparation for the anticipated passage of laws that will introduce value-based taxation of real property throughout Lithuania. The first phase of this program was the development of land value maps that were completed and made public in 2003.

The Lincoln Institute and SLCR (renamed the Lithuanian State Enterprise Centre of Registers [SECR] in 2002) have worked collaboratively since 1997 to offer educational programs and document Lithuania’s progress (Malme 2001; Sabaliauskas and Aleksienė 2002). In 2003 the Institute and SECR developed a new executive course, Introducing a Market Value-Based Mass Appraisal System for Taxation of Real Property, for lawmakers and senior government representatives preparing to implement value-based taxes in other countries experiencing rapid political and economic change.

The course uses Lithuania’s experiences in market valuation as a case study, and SECR executives and specialists join core international faculty in the Institute’s Department of Valuation and Taxation to address the principles, strategies and practical problems raised by mass valuation of real property. The Lithuanian case study demonstrates how those responsible for developing that mass valuation system dealt with the problems they faced.

The first offering of the week-long course was presented in Vilnius, Lithuania, in October 2003 to a delegation from the Russian Federation, led by Alexey Overchuk, deputy chief of the Federal Land Cadastre Service of Russia (see related article). Participants included senior administrators of land valuation boards from various regions of Russia, officials from the federal ministries of Economic Development, Finance and Property Relations, and representatives from private companies involved in valuation system development. Two delegates from the National Cadastral Agency of the Republic of Belarus also participated. This course will be offered again in Vilnius in fall 2004 for a delegation from another country that is undertaking mass valuation for land or real property taxation.

Jane H. Malme is a fellow at the Lincoln Institute. She developed the new course on mass valuation with Lincoln Institute faculty Richard Almy, John Charman and Robert Gloudemans, together with SECR representatives Albina Aleksienė, Arvydas Bagdonavičius, Bronislovas Mikūta, Rimantas Ramanauskas, Antanas Tumelionis and Lidija Zavtrakova.


Malme, Jane H. 2001. Market value-based taxation of real property. Land Lines 13(1):8–9.

Malme, Jane H. and Joan M. Youngman. 2001. The Development of Property Taxation in Economies in Transition: Case Studies from Central and Eastern Europe. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Available at

Sabaliauskas, Kestutis, and Albina Aleksienė. 2002. Progress toward value-based taxation of real property in Lithuania. Land Lines 14(4):11–13.