Considerations for a tax on urban vacant land in Kampala

Policy brief Cities and Cities that Work

  • Vacant land constitutes an estimated 8-10% of Kampala’s land. However, this does not take into account abandoned or derelict buildings, space used for parking, or large pieces of land attached to small buildings. These are all types of land that have been categorised as vacant in other countries.
  • Currently, vacant land is not classified as property under the Ugandan Ratings Act 2005, therefore it is not subject to property tax and is a potential source of lost revenue for Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
  • To help the city understand the magnitude of this potential lost revenue, this brief uses newly collected urban cadastre data to provide some initial estimates. Two parishes from the centre of the Kampala were selected as test cases.
  • The researchers find that there is an estimated loss of revenue between UGX 245 million ($65,000) and UGX 1.8 billion ($478,000) depending on the model chosen. Therefore, the KCCA may want to consider requesting legislation that allows the taxation of vacant urban land.
  • In addition, implementing such a tax requires various legal and policy considerations to be taken into account. The researchers provide six policy and legal considerations for city policymakers to deliberate in regards to any changes to vacant land policy.