Subnational and Property Tax

While policymakers and academics have increasingly given attention to national-level taxation in developing countries, local government taxation has remained relatively neglected. Yet local taxes have broad and direct impacts on citizens in low-income countries and are likely to have important implications for small business growth, local service delivery, equity, governance, and accountability. Property taxes are of particular interest, as they have significant revenue potential and are non-distortionary, progressive and easily linked to public services – but are nonetheless severely underused in almost all developing countries. Our research aims to build a more extensive body of empirical research on the potential reform of subnational and property taxes, with an emphasis on political economy challenges and cross-country comparison.

Publications:

Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development
by Mick Moore, Wilson Prichard & Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Taxing Africa is a forthcoming publication, available to pre-order from 1st July 2018. Taxation has been seen as the domain of charisma-free accountants, lawyers and number crunchers – an unlikely place to encounter big societal questions about democracy, equity or good governance. Yet it is exactly these issues that pervade conversations about taxation among policymakers, tax…

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March 2018
Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity
by Wollela Abehodie Yesegat & Richard Krever

In most federal systems, state governments are funded through a combination of direct fiscal transfers from the central government, and the revenue they collect directly from locally adopted taxes. Ethiopia is a federal polity, but follows a slightly different path in the case of its most important tax source – value added tax (VAT). As…

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March 2018
Subnational Value Added Tax in Ethiopia and Implications for States’ Fiscal Capacity
by Wollela Abehodie Yesegat & Richard Krever

Fiscal federalism comprises the distribution of functions and tax revenue sources between central and regional governments. Fiscal federalism issues in respect of value added tax (VAT) do not arise in unitary states; in federal states questions arise as to which level of government should levy the tax, and how revenue should be divided between central…

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January 2018
Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos
by Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen

Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos: once widely seen as a city in permanent crisis, it is now seen by some observers as a beacon of megacity development. Most academic attention has focused on personal income taxation, which comprises the lion’s share of government revenue…

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January 2018
How Do We Research Tax Morale at the Subnational Level?
by Jalia Kangave, Giulia Mascagni & Mick Moore

One of the most effective ways of increasing voluntary tax compliance is by improving tax morale. Several studies have been undertaken to examine why some individuals pay taxes while others do not. While many of these studies have been conducted at the national level, there is an increasing body of research at the subnational level. Three…

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January 2018
Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos
by Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen

Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos from of a city seen as in permanent ‘crisis’ to a beacon of ‘megacity development’. Most attention has focused on Personal Income Taxation (PIT). Less attention has been devoted to another innovation – the property tax or Land Use…

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September 2017
Linking Property Tax Revenue and Public Services
by Wilson Prichard

In practical terms most property tax reforms are, first and foremost, efforts to increase tax revenue. But the ultimate goal of tax reform is, of course, broader: expanding tax revenue in order to finance the provision of valuable publicly-provided goods and services. Tax reform is only socially desirable if tax revenue is, in fact, translated…

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September 2017
Central-Local Government Roles and Relationships in Property Taxation
by Tom Goodfellow

Should central or local governments be responsible for collection and administration of property taxes? There is great variation in practice across the continent, but one particularly significant divide is that between francophone and anglophone countries. The former commonly adopt centralised systems, while the latter usually decentralise key aspects of property taxation such as collection and…

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September 2017
Strengthening IT Systems for Property Tax Reform
by Wilson Prichard & Paul Fish

The introduction of improved IT systems has long been hailed as a powerful – potentially transformative – tool for strengthening local property taxes. Yet in practice this promise has rarely been achieved on a sustainable basis in Africa, despite significant investment.The challenge lies in understanding why new IT systems have failed to deliver promised benefits,…

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November 2017
Valuation for Property Tax Purposes
by Nyah Zebong, Paul Fish & Wilson Prichard

Improving processes for valuing properties lies at the heart of efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of property taxation. Effective property taxation is impossible without efficient property valuation. I practice, however, valuation rolls across most of Africa are incomplete and severely out-of-date, thus dramatically reducing potential property tax yield. This is, at least in part,…

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Blogs:

January 2017
by Eustace Uzor

The need to achieve fiscal convergence and consolidation in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised. This is especially important considering that the economy recently slipped into recession, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. One notable factor for this is the high level of fiscal indiscipline at the subnational level, which mainly derives from problematic…

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August 2016
by Liam Taylor

From Wall Street to the World Bank, people are looking at Kampala as a model for how cities can finance their futures. This piece first appeared on Next City. Joseph Aliguma is perched on the bull bars of a minibus, listing his expenses. Every day he drives his 14-seater “taxi” between Kibale, in western Uganda,…

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January 2016
by Rhiannon McCluskey

It is widely recognised that property taxation is the most viable, efficient, and progressive means of raising local government revenue, with significant positive implications for state-building and public accountability.  However, property tax collection remains very low in the developing world, and academic research on the topic is limited. For these reasons, the ICTD decided to…

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