Local tax administration databases have grown by just over 100,000 properties, after a real estate census was carried out in 44 municipalities across Serbia, initial results show.
This information applies only to houses and apartments, excluding land plots, garages and other structures. A complete inventory of assets was conducted through the Property Tax Reform program supported by the Swiss government.
"The census takers, who worked in the field for six months and checked whether the actual situation in the field corresponded with property tax payments, listed about 100,000 pieces of real estate that were outside the tax records," Jelena Holcinger, an expert on the Property Tax Reform program, has told the BizLife portal.
According to her, the situation on the ground has shown that a large number of local governments have a problem with inaccurate data, incorrect addresses, and incorrect ownership data.
In the local self-governments where the census was taken, property tax revenues amounted to RSD 2.9 billion in 2018, which is about RSD 230 million more than in 2017.
However, in this case, higher property tax revenue does not necessarily mean a tax increase. On the other hand, for those who owe taxes, there is still the possibility of debt repayment, that is, payment in installments, and in practice a large number of citizens use this possibility.
"Property tax is the most significant revenue of their own available to municipalities, and on average accounts for over 50 percent of the total revenue collected by them. The money collected from property taxes remains in the municipal budget and its main purpose is to finance local needs of the population, such as communal services, schools, kindergartens, local roads. Local governments have an obligation to inform citizens about the spending of this money, but also to actively consult them about their local needs," Holcinger explains.
Five municipalities that have been most successful in expanding their property tax coverage will be awarded by the Swiss government with one million francs. The winners will be announced later this month.