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Substitution effect through fiscal transfers?! : incidence of the Peruvian property tax
Substituierungseffekt durch Finanzzuweisungen?! : Auswirkungen auf die Grundsteuererhebung im Falle Perus.
Kurzfassung auf EnglischWhether the results of fiscal transfers have positive or negative implications depends upon the incentives that transfer systems create for both central and local governments. The complexity and ambiguity of the relationship between fiscal transfers and tax revenues of local governments is one of the main causes why research projects, even in the same country, come to different results. This investigation is seriously questioning the often stated substitution effect based only on an analysis of aggregated data and finally rejects in the qualitative part of this research (using survey techniques) a substitution effect in the majority of the assessed municipalities.
While most theories are modeling governments as tax-maximizers (Leviathan) or as being prone to fiscal laziness, this investigation shows that mayors react to a whole set of incentives. Most mayors react rational and rather pragmatically in respect to the incentives and constraints which are established by the particular context of a municipality, the central government and their own personality/identity/interests. While the yield on property tax in Peru is low, there are no signs that increases in transfers have had, on average, a negative impact on their revenue generation. On an individual basis there exist mayors who are revenue maximizers, others who are substituting revenues and others who show apathy. Many engage in property tax.
While rural or small municipalities have limited potential, property taxes are the main revenue sources for the Peruvian urban municipalities, rising on average 10% during the last five years. The property tax in Peru accounts for less than 0.2% of GDP, which compared to the Latin American average, is extremely low. In 2002, property tax was collecting nationwide about 10% of the overall budget of local governments. In 2006, the share was closer to 6% due to windfall transfers. The property tax can enhance accountability at the local level and has important impacts on urban spatial development. It is also important considering that most charges or transfers are earmarked such that property tax yields can cover discretionary finances. The intergovernmental fiscal transfers can be described as a patchwork of political liabilities of the past rather than connected with thorough compensation or service improvement functions. The fiscal base of local governments in Peru remains small for the municipalities and the incentive structure to enhance property tax revenues is far from optimal. The central government and sector institutions, which are in the Peruvian institutional design of the property tax responsible for the enablement environment, can reinforce local tax efforts. In the past the central government permanently changed the rules of the game, giving municipalities reduced predictability of policy choices. There are no relevant signs that a stronger property tax is captured by Peruvian interest groups.
Since the central government has responsibility for tax regulation and partly valuation there has been little debate about financial issues on the local political agenda. Most council members are therefore not familiar with tax issues. If the central government did not set the tax rate and valuation then there would probably be a more vigorous public debate and an electorate that was better informed about local politics. Elected mayors (as political and administrative leaders) are not counterbalanced and held in check by an active council and/or by vigorous local political parties. Local politics are concentrated on the mayor, electoral rules, the institutional design and political culture – all of which are not helpful in increasing the degree of influence that citizens and associations have upon collective decision-making at the local level. The many alternations between democracy and autocracy have not been helpful in building strong institutions at the local level.
Property tax revenues react slowly and the institutional context matters because an effective tax system as a public good can only be created if actors have long time horizons. The property tax has a substantial revenue potential, however, since municipalities are going through a transfer bonanza, it is especially difficult to make a plea for increasing their own revenue base. Local governments should be the proponents of property tax reform, but they have, in Peru, little policy clout because the municipal associations are dispersed and there exists little relevant information concerning important local policy issues.
Kurzfassung auf DeutschOb die Auswirkungen von Fiskaltransfers auf die Generierung von lokalen Steuereinnahmen positiv oder negativ sind, wird in der akademischen Literatur weiterhin offen diskutiert. Die Komplexität und Ambivalenz der Fiskalbeziehungen zwischen Gebietsköperschaften und Zentralregierung führt manchmal selbst innerhalb eines gleichen Landes zu unterschiedlichen Ergebnissen. Die hier vorliegende Untersuchung hinterfragt kritisch den oft postulierten Effekt in dem Eigeneinahmen durch Transferzahlungen substituiert werden. Während die meisten wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten Regierungen entweder als tax-maximizers (Leviathan) oder als fiscal lazy darstellen, zeigt diese Untersuchung, dass die meisten Bürgermeister spezifisch auf eine Vielzahl von Anreizen rational und pragmatisch reagieren. Obwohl die Eigeneinnahmen der Lokalregierungen in Peru generell niedrig sind, kann ein direkter Zusammenhang zwischen kontinuierlich ansteigenden Grundsteuereinnahmen und Fiskalzuweisungen eher verneint werden. Die Anreizstruktur in Peru zur Generierung von lokalen Steuereinnahmen ist hinderlich und teilweise sogar kontraproduktiv. Die Zentralregierung und gewisse Spezialinstitutionen spielen in Peru wichtige Funktionen hinsichtlich lokaler Steuergenerierung und sind mitverantwortlich für die positive Gestaltung der Anreizstruktur.
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