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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 22: Land and Property Taxes in Poland

Richard M. Bird


1 Richard M. Bird In 1999, subnational taxes accounted for 24.5 percent of subnational revenues in Poland, and subnational revenues accounted for 28.8 percent of total government revenue and 12.0 percent of GDP. In other words, subnational taxes were 2.9 percent of GDP. Since taxes on property accounted for 39.7 percent of subnational taxes, property taxes in 1999 thus came to 1.2 percent of GDP. Property taxes accounted for 13.9 percent of local revenues and 31.8 percent of local ‘own’ revenues.2 Poland has several levels of subnational government, with different degrees of autonomy and different fiscal bases. The municipal (gmina) level has had considerable autonomy since the dawning of the post-communist era in 1990 saw the creation of almost 2500 municipalities. A major reform in 1999 created a new regional (powiat) level with some degree of autonomy but did not in any way reduce municipal autonomy. This reform created 308 powiats, with an average of about eight gminas per powiat, along with 65 cities with powiat status (Wojcik, 2000). These new entities, however, have little revenue autonomy and are largely financed by transfers.3 Finally, there are 16 vovoidships, which are essentially regional administrations of the national government. Since the Law on Local Taxes and Duties of 1991, there have been essentially three taxes on property in Poland: the urban property or real estate tax, the agricultural tax and the forest tax. By far the most important of these taxes is the real estate tax, which accounts for 85 percent of...

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