Using Satellite Imagery to Revolutionize Creation of Tax Maps and Local Revenue Collection

World Bank Policy Research Paper by Daniel Ayalew Ali, Klaus Deininger and Michael Wild: “The technical complexity of ensuring that tax rolls are complete and valuations current is often perceived as a major barrier to bringing in more property tax revenues in developing countries.

This paper shows how high-resolution satellite imagery makes it possible to assess the completeness of existing tax maps by estimating built-up areas based on building heights and footprints. Together with information on sales prices from the land registry, targeted surveys, and routine statistical data, this makes it possible to use mass valuation procedures to generate tax maps. The example of Kigali illustrates the reliability of the method and the potentially far-reaching revenue impacts. Estimates show that heightened compliance and a move to a 1 percent ad valorem tax would yield a tenfold increase in revenue from public land….(More)”.