Paperback | $40.00 | 484 pages
ISBN: 978-1-55844-173-6
PDF | Free | Sample Chapter

Making the Property Tax Work

Experiences in Developing and Transitional Countries

Edited by Roy Bahl, Jorge Martinez-Vazquez and Joan Youngman

March 2008, English

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

This book analyzes the property tax in developing and transitional countries, addressing why it does not work well there and what can be done to make it a more relevant source of revenue for those governments. It shows that, with careful design and administration, the property tax can be a key tool for strengthening local government finance.

About the Editors

Roy Bahl is professor of economics at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Jorge Martinez-Vazquez is professor of economics at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Joan Youngman is senior fellow and chair of the Department of Valuation and Taxation at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.


“This splendid book presents selected, clear slices of how well (and how poorly) the local property tax works in many countries. Importantly, theory is also carefully presented to gain understanding of why practice differences persist. Surprisingly evident is the commonality of experience among countries (even the United States) at various stages of economic, social, and political development. This book demonstrates as few others do the value of comparative study and analysis.”

Oliver Oldman, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School

“No other tax has been around for as long and has been used as widely as the property tax. Yet, it has received relatively little systematic attention. This book provides up-to-date, comprehensive, and informed surveys and analyses of these taxes in OECD and developing countries, in transitional economies, and even in ancient times. Readers learn why property taxes are so hated; why they generate more revenue in countries with well-established property rights over land; and why their shares of revenue in GDPs have been growing significantly in recent decades. This book is a gold mine of information and will fill a major gap in our knowledge of property taxation. This is particularly important at a time when fiscal decentralization that requires locally controlled tax revenue has become so popular.”

Vito Tanzi, Former Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, International Monetary Fund

Table of Contents


1. The Property Tax in Practice, Roy Bahl, Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, and Joan Youngman

The Setting

2. The Property Tax in Development and in Transition, Joan Youngman

3. The Determinants of Revenue Performance, Roy Bahl and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez

Commentary: Gregory K. Ingram

Fairness, Political Issues, and Scope

4. Incidence and Economic Impacts of Property Taxes in Developing and Transitional Countries, Edward B. Sennoga, David L. Sjoquist, and Sally Wallace

5. Property Tax and Rural Local Finance, Richard M. Bird and Enid Slack

6. Alternate Value Capture Instruments: The Case of Taiwan, Steve Waicho Tsui

Commentary: Indira Rajaraman

Commentary: Natalia V. Takhtarova

Data Collection and Information Technology

7. Data Challenges in Implementing a Market Value Property Tax: Market and Market-Informed Valuation in Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States, John L. Mikesell and C. Kurt Zorn

8. Computer-Assisted Mass Appraisal Options for Transitional and Developing Countries, Joseph K. Eckert

Commentary: Paul Smoke

Approaches to Valuation

9. Is Area-Based Assessment an Alternative, an Intermediate Step, or an Impediment to Value-Based Taxation in India?, U. A. Vasanth Rao

10. The Feasibility of Site Value Taxation, Riël C. D. Franzsen and William J. McCluskey

Commentary: Gary Cornia

Property Rights, Collections, and Enforcement

11. Taxing Land Without Market Value in Ancient China, Yu-Hung Hong

12. Extending Property Taxation into Previously Untaxed Areas: South African Townships and Tribal Areas, Michael E. Bell and John H. Bowman

13. Collection and Enforcement of the Property Tax, Sally Powers

Commentary: Claudia M. De Cesare

The Baltic Experience

14. Land Taxation Reform in Estonia, Tambet Tiits

15. Value-Based Property Taxes in Lithuania, Albina Aleksiene and Arvydas Bagdonavicius

Commentary: Vytautas Šulija


Appraisal, Assessment, Economic Development, Economics, Housing, Land Value, Land Value Taxation, Legal Issues, Local Government, Poverty, Property Taxation, Tax Reform, Taxation, Urban Development, Value-Based Taxes