ICTD Working Paper 73

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 in Lagos. Less attention has been devoted to another crucial innovation over the same period – the Land Use Charge – and other forms of tax related to property. In this paper we show how the story of property taxation in Lagos since the early 2000s is important, not only in terms of the enormous increase in collection, but because of the ways in which property-related taxes have helped to support personal income taxation and to solidify the fiscal contract between state and society more broadly. Moreover, we explore how the payment of the Land Use Charge is interpreted by taxpayers, and how it is used alongside a plethora of other documents and processes to try and shore up fragile claims to property. In a context of intensely insecure tenure, particularly but not exclusively at the lower ends of the socio-economic spectrum, both taxation and other kinds of formal and informal payments play a key role in efforts to incrementally build and solidify property rights. Read the 2-page brief version here.


Tom Goodfellow

Tom Goodfellow is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. His research concerns the political economy of urban development in Africa, with particular interests in the politics of urban informal economies, urban conflict and violence, land governance and taxation.

Olly Owen

Olly Owen is an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellow at the Oxford Department for International Development. With a background in anthropology, his research focuses on politics and governance in West Africa, particularly on policing structures and practices and fiscal governance issues in Nigeria.
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Read the 2-page brief
Read the 2-page brief