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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 19: Land-based Taxes in Hungary

Almos Tassonyi


Almos Tassonyi1 In 1990, the Hungarian system of local governance was substantially changed, with a recognition of the principles of local autonomy and the reassertion of historical local rights. The Act on Local Self Government (1990) eliminated 1523 local councils that had acted as agents for the central government in a system of 19 county councils. Further, local governments were given responsibilities on an exceptional scale (Davey and Peteri, 1998), ranging from traditional local services such as the provision of water, sewerage, roads, fire protection and local recreational and cultural services to the provision of primary education. Hungary’s municipal tax system has also experienced radical changes since 1992. The previous system was replaced by one that made it possible for the majority of local taxes to be imposed on non-residents. The use of the business turnover tax by local governments became widespread (Bird et al., 1995). At the same time, most municipalities terminated taxes on residential properties, with the aim of enhancing the political popularity of local officials. Since then, the need for local revenue as more restraints on transfers imposed by the national government has driven many to reinstate the building tax, plot tax or the communal tax. Towards the end of the 1990s, property taxation has been pushed into the spotlight again, as local governments continued to search for more revenue. Many municipalities continue levying size-based taxes (the building tax) on business properties and the communal tax (the most widespread landbased tax in Hungary) on residential properties...

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