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Property Taxation within the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Current Status and Future Prospects of Land Value Taxation--Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland

Riël C.D. Franzsen

January 2003, English

This study provides a brief overview of the property tax systems in five of the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), namely Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. For a variety of reasons property tax is not utilised optimally in any one of the five countries. However, it is generally recognised in all five countries that property tax could and should become a more important own source of revenue for municipalities.

Although comprehensive property-tax legislation is in place in all five countries, giving practical effect to the provisions of the law presents problems. A variety of different tax bases are used and typically the property tax coverage in these countries (with South Africa and—to some extent—Namibia the exceptions) are low (Botswana and Swaziland) to very low (Lesotho). The lack of properly qualified and skilled valuers presents itself as a serious stumbling block in improving and maintaining the quality and credibility of valuation rolls. Collection and enforcement are also generally poor and the relationship between councils and taxpayers strained. Taxpayer education is almost non-existent.

If the situation is to improve significantly, capacity building (in the areas of professional, technical and management skills, training, computerisation, collection and enforcement procedures) is imperative. Further research is required to get a better understanding of the political, constitutional and legal environment within which property assessment and property taxes are administered, and to address the present weaknesses of the respective systems. Only then can properly justified recommendations regarding suitable amendments be made.