Publication: Gender norms, landholdership, and rural land use fee and agricultural income tax in Ethiopia

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Komatsu, Hitomi
Ambel, Alemayehu A.
Yonis, Manex Bule
Area-based land taxes, a form of property tax, exist where rural land markets do not exist or do not function well. Understanding how these taxes affect different groups of landholders, including by men and women, is important since a tax based on the land size is likely to have an outsized effect on smaller landholders. However, survey data allowing for an individual- and household-disaggregated analysis has been scarce. Using newly available data on tax payments and self-reported individual land ownership from the Ethiopian Socioeconomic Survey 2018/2019, this paper assessed the gender implications of an area-based rural land use fee and agricultural income tax in Ethiopia. We found that female adult-only households were more likely than dual adult households to be smallholders with less than 0.5 hectare of land, and these smallholders faced the largest per-hectare tax rates. Female-headed- and female adult-only households faced a tax incidence that was 37 percent higher than it was for male-headed and dual-adult households. The gender land ownership patterns, norms limiting women’s role in agriculture, household structures, and gender agricultural productivity gaps are likely to result in lower consumption, and consequently, a higher tax burden for women. Finally, we simulated the effect of a hypothetical tax schedule with progressive per-hectare tax rates and exemptions for smallholders and found that while this would reduce women’s tax burdens, the tax remained to be regressive because of the prevalence of landholder ship among poor households. Our study highlights the difficulty of area-based land taxes to be progressive.
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