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International Handbook of Land and Property Taxation

Edited by Richard M. Bird and Enid Slack

This comprehensive Handbook explores case studies of land and property taxation in 25 countries (five in each of five regions – OECD, central and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America), and focuses on the potential contributions of the property tax to the revenues of urban and rural governments and to more efficient land use.
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Chapter 2: Land and Property Taxation in 25 Countries: A Comparative Review

Richard M. Bird and Enid Slack


Richard M. Bird and Enid Slack In this chapter, we summarize some of the main findings of the 25 case studies contained in this book. Table 2.1 sets out the main property taxes in each of these countries and indicates their importance as a source of local revenues. We discuss the major policy alternatives with respect to taxing land and property – the choice of tax base, exemptions, methods of determining the tax base, tax rates, differential treatment of different classes of property (farms, residences and so on), and the process of tax administration. We consider more briefly some of the other taxes levied on land found around the world such as land transfer taxes and development charges, unearned increment taxes, and the like. The discussion is organized thematically and illustrated by examples drawn from the case study chapters. What is taxed? Property taxes are generally levied on all types of properties – residential, commercial and industrial, as well as on farm properties. Sometimes different categories of property are treated differently. Sometimes certain classes of property, or property owner, or uses of property, are exempt. Sometimes only land is taxed. We shall first discuss the question of taxing land versus land and improvements and then consider exemptions. Land versus land and improvements Some countries tax only land. A few tax only buildings. Most tax both land and buildings (or ‘improvements’), usually together but in some countries (for example Hungary) separately. Some also tax machinery (or ‘tangible business assets’). Table 2.2 summarizes...

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