Local Government Property Tax Administration and Collaboration with Central Government: Case Studies of Kiambu, Laikipia, and Machakos Counties Kenya

Property taxes are a major source of revenue at sub national levels in most countries, with significant implications for state building and public accountability. However, 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.

Counties face several challenges in administration of property tax like: weak collection systems, infrastructure, administrative and technical capacity and weak links between taxes and service delivery.

Some of the findings from the study is that the counties under study did not obtain complete land registers from the defunct local authorities and some did not have complete and updated property valuation registers. Further, some of the existing valuation rolls are outdated and weakly automated. This contributes to poor tax administration, revenue leakages and inefficiencies.

These challenges present potential areas for collaboration between national and county governments in property tax administration, including through information and data sharing, capacity building, automation, mapping, zoning and updating of valuation rolls and land registers. It is hoped that the findings and case material in this study will be useful both to tax researchers and to policymakers. The study helps to fill a gap in the literature regarding implementation challenges at a practical level. Policymakers at both national and county levels have a great deal to gain from strengthening property tax administration systems, but doing so will require greater transparency and more pronounced willingness to collaborate than currently exists.