African Property Tax Initiative Library

Africa is the fastest urbanising continent on the planet. In order to provide citizens with adequate public goods and services and invest in the required infrastructure, African cities need sufficient and sustainable revenues. Property taxation is equitable, and provides stable funding for local governments. In developed countries, property taxes are the mainstay of local funding, with collection amounting to 2.2% of GDP on average.

In developing and transition countries, the average yield is 0.6% of GDP, while in Africa the tally averages a mere 0.38%. With many African cities booming, this represents a significant opportunity: If prosperous African cities could increase the proportion of tax collected from property, they could do much more to improve the quality of life of their communities. 

African countries face a number of technical, administrative, and political challenges in increasing property tax revenues, and research is needed to inform reform processes. To this end, the African Property Tax Initiative (APTI) was established in 2017. It is coordinated by the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This library is intended to be of use to APTI members, with resources on the Initiative’s four core themes.

Image credit: Kampala city center | Lauren Parnell Marino | Flickr | CC BY NC 2.0

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  • The role of information technology to enhance property tax revenue in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    Public finance theory suggests that property tax is an ideal local tax. But it’s also a ‘data-hungry’ tax, making it difficult and costly to administer properly— especially at the local government level where capacity, skills and resources are often lacking....
  • Local government property tax administration and collaboration with central government: case studies of Kiambu, Laikipia and Machakos Counties, Kenya

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    Property taxes are a major source of revenue at sub-national levels in most countries, but their administration is complex, and in most cases the process involves both national and sub-national governments. In Kenya, county governments have legislative authority to levy property taxes and the responsibility to finance some of the cost of the services they provide....
  • How local authorities can exploit the potential for effective property taxes: a case study of Harare

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    Property tax is tax charged on real estates or immovable assets. The tax base may be on land only, land and improvements on the land, or improvements on the land only. For the purpose of this paper property tax shall be referred to as tax on all types of immovable properties, residential, commercial and industrial, and farms. Recurrent taxes on property or rates charged by local authorities are commonly labelled property taxes.These are charged by local authorities in many countries. They are charged on the assessed value of the land, building or a combination of them....
  • Property tax in African secondary cities: insights from the cases of Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal)

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2019
    This working paper adopts an urban lens on property tax. It focuses specifically on how property tax operates in two African secondary cities, Kisumu (Kenya) and M’Bour (Senegal). The paper identifies three factors shaping the low levels of property tax collection in the two case cities....
  • Property taxation in Kampala, Uganda: an analytic case study on a successful reform

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2018
    Kampala’s revenue reforms offer lessons that large and powerful cities should not wait for national actions, rather, they can do a lot “in-house” to improve tax administration, coverage, and collection. Against the rather poor performance of the property tax in Uganda, Kampala’s reforms have resulted in unprecedented increase of own-source revenues generally and the property tax specifically....
  • Practical guidance note: training manual for implementing property tax reform with a points-based valuation

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2018
    This paper shares the author’s on-going experience in supporting the implementation of property tax reform programmes in smaller urban centres and rural districts in Sub-Saharan Africa, covering more than 12 local governments over a period of more than 10 years. The paper presents a generic training manual, designed to offer practical guidance for property tax reformers on the process of mobilising revenue.The guidance details the process step-by-step together with supporting materials, schedules and examples of survey instruments....
  • Property owners’ knowledge and attitudes towards property taxation in Tanzania

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2018
    Property taxation (PT) is high on the political agenda in Tanzania and considered a cornerstone of the Government’s efforts to strengthen broad based direct taxation. Because it is visible to taxpayers, and in principle linked to improved local services, PT holds a unique potential to act as a foundation for bargaining between taxpayers and governments over revenue and public spending. Yet, property tax generates limited revenues....
  • How local authorities can exploit the potential for effective property taxes: a case study of Harare

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2018
    This paper explores administrative challenges that developing countries face in property tax administration. It is internationally acknowledged that local authorities play a vital role in enhancing a country’s economic growth and provision of public goods. Their activities rely on revenue collection. It is therefore in the public interest and the interest of all governments to support their activities. The author identified that the main source of revenue for the City of Harare is property tax.Property tax has the potential to perform better given the boom in urban population....
  • The role of information communication technology to enhance property tax revenue in Africa: a tale of four cities in three countries

    International Centre for Tax and Development, 2018
    Information communication technology (ICT) is an important tool to support local governments in their efforts to more efficiently administer property taxes and other own-source revenues. Increasingly, developing countries, including those in Africa, are managing large volumes of data on taxable properties and taxpayers within the ICT environment.With reference to four African cities, this paper comments on the benefits and challenges relating to the use of ICT in the administration of property tax and other own-source revenues....

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