1887

OECD Working Papers on Fiscal Federalism

This series covers issues related to intergovernmental fiscal relations and local/regional public finance, such as: tax and spending assignment across government levels; intergovernmental grants; fiscal equalization; local and regional public service efficiency; inter-jurisdictional tax competition; and macroeconomic issues such as intergovernmental fiscal management and sub-central fiscal rules. Many of these working papers are outputs of the OECD Network on Fiscal Relations Across Levels of Government. Related working papers on fiscal federalism issues are also published in other OECD working paper series on tax policy, economics, public governance and regional development. An integrated list of key papers produced by the Fiscal Network can be found at http://oe.cd/fiscalnetwork.

(Note: numbers 1, 6 and 8 are available in the OECD Economics Department Working Papers, as numbers 465, 626 and 705.)

English

The Political Economy of Property Tax Reform

Property taxes are generally considered by economists to be good taxes, and many countries are being advised to increase and improve their property taxes. In practice, however, property tax reforms have often proved to be difficult to carry out successfully. This paper discusses why property taxes are particularly challenging to reform and suggests several ways in which efforts to reform this tax may become more successful in the future. After a brief introductory section on the ‘disconnect’ between the economics and the politics of property tax reform, Section 2 summarizes recent experiences in five OECD countries with property tax reform. Against this background, Section 3 sets out the key elements of a good property tax reform and Section 4 discusses several aspects of property tax reform that seem to have derailed or distorted reforms in practice. Unfortunately, some of the solutions countries have adopted to deal with such problems are themselves problematic, either because they do not really solve the problem or because they hamper rather than work towards the establishment of a good property tax. Fortunately, as Section 5 outlines, it is possible to devise strategies for property tax reform that incorporate more acceptable solutions to most problems. As Section 6 concludes, good property tax reform is not easy. But it can definitely be achieved if an appropriately designed reform package is properly introduced and implemented.

English

Keywords: property tax, tax reform, political economy
JEL: H25: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Business Taxes and Subsidies including sales and value-added (VAT); H71: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations / State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue; D78: Microeconomics / Analysis of Collective Decision-Making / Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation; H24: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes
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