ICTD Summary Brief 10
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 I practice, however, valuation rolls across most of Africa are incomplete and severely out-of-date, thus dramatically reducing potential property tax yield.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, a function of history: many of the valuation models being used on the continent do not reflect best practices and local learning, but are inherited vestiges of colonial systems that no longer respond adequately to local needs. The need to modernise is urgent, but progress has been slow. Effective reform needs to consider two broad questions: (i) the extent to which market value or physical attributes of the property should be the basis for valuation; and (ii) which organ of government should be responsible for valuation, and how should it be organised? Answers to these questions may vary across countries. There is, however, growing agreement that the central need in most countries is to simplify existing valuation processes, to better align them with the realities of undeveloped local property markets and constrained administrative capacity.