Policy implementation under stress: central-local government relations in property tax collection in Tanzania

Policy implementation under stress: central-local government relations in property tax collection in Tanzania

Inter-organisational cooperation in revenue collection has received limited attention in the tax administration literature. Recent experiences from Tanzania offer a unique opportunity to examine opportunities and challenges facing such cooperation between central and local government agencies in a developing country context. The administration of property taxes (PT) in Tanzania has been oscillating between decentralised and centralised collection regimes.

The paper examines how inter-organisational cooperation influenced implementation of the reforms. Two lessons of broader relevance for policy implementation and PT administration are highlighted. First, institutional trust matters. In Tanzania, top-down reform processes, ambiguity related to the rationale behind the reforms, and lack of consultations on the roles and expectations, have acted as barriers to constructive working relationships between the local and central government revenue agencies. Second, administrative constraints, reflected in poor preparation, outdated property registers and valuation rolls, and inadequate incentives for the involved agencies to cooperate hampered the implementation of the reforms.