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The political cost of local revenue mobilization: decentralization of the property tax in Indonesia

Author: CHRISTIAN VON HALDENWANG
Published in PFM, Vol. 17 No. 2

Taxes on real property have been identified as a source of income whose potential is currently underused by many countries. Indonesia has recently decentralized the prop-erty tax to the local level, but has this led to a better use of the tax potential from this source? A look at revenue figures provided by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance sug-gests that reforms may have boosted tax collection at an aggregate level. However, closer scrutiny of seven local cases reveals that local governments are far from tapping the full potential of the property tax. Most of them are struggling with deficient data, low public acceptance of the tax and huge amounts of tax liabilities. In addition, local gov-ernments shy away from the political costs associated with more active revenue mobili-zation.

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