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Overview of the Property Tax in Latin America

Claudia M. De Cesare

October 2010, English

This article presents the main results of a survey that is being conducted on the property tax in Latin America, based on a snapshot taken in September 2008. Survey data is being collected on an ongoing basis using the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Web site. The data base currently incorporates results referring to 66 jurisdictions located in 13 different countries. An analysis of the data shows that it is not possible to identify a common pattern in the policy decisions regarding property taxes in the region. The significance of the tax as a source of revenue in Latin America is fairly limited. Although the revenue generating ability of the property tax is influenced by certain economic variables, such as GDP or poverty level, a large part of the problem is how the tax collection is managed. Even the municipalities that collect more than 1 percent of GDP have a great potential to increase revenue from this tax.

Key words: Property tax in Latin America, tax base, tax rate, taxpayers, cadastre, tax assessment, tax revenues and collection