Photo: Kyrgyz Republic - Mika Torhonen

The World Bank has supported land reform, land administration, and land management projects in 24 countries in the Europe and Central Asia region (ECA) since the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union and Central European socialist countries. This has been a period of catalyzed, unprecedented political, economic, and social changes and also a remarkable success story in creating private property rights, and developing land registration and cadastre systems. The results are becoming visible. According to the 2016 Doing Business Index, 7 of the 10 best- performing property registers are found in ECA countries. It is time to think next steps and how to best utilize these data repositories for development.

In the aftermath of 2008 fiscal crisis, which hit the Europe and Central Asia region particularly hard, and facing the challenges of globalization, countries have started to pay renewed attention to equitable and efficient sources of revenue. Recurrent property taxes are being seriously considered as they fall on fixed assets that cannot be moved to another jurisdiction, and are known to be a viable source for financing local services.

However, while it is known that recurrent property taxes can play a significant role in a tax system, they remain underutilized in most countries, with only a minority raising significant amounts in this way. Why is that?

New analytical work by the World Bank and FAO (.pdf) that featured 9 country case studies from ECA, provides some answers. Reasons are in part technical and in part political. Modern property taxes are based on the assessed value rather than the area of a property; therefore, they require the capacity to estimate market values of properties systematically, equitably and comprehensively. Major technical impediments include commonly inadequate valuation capacity (lack of valuer education, standards, accreditation) and associated infrastructure (incomplete tax rolls), and market information (no access to reliable property transaction prices).

The latter technical impediments may have become historical in ECA, which has the world's leading property registers (in terms of completeness and ability to register transactions) and vivid valuation professionals and valuation infrastructure. In fact, ECA's digital property registers provide a good and fast improving base for mass property valuations systems region wide. These systems can in turn provide equitable values efficiently for recurrent property taxes. There are several good mass property valuation systems operational in ECA.

The remaining challenges in introducing equitable property taxes in ECA region are political and cannot be underestimated. While mass valuation systems are fully functional in many ECA countries, being introduced in others and considered in most remaining ECA countries, one still has to cross the border to Western Europe to find efficient property taxes. Imposition of property taxes is sensitive, perhaps a political career ending move; even when there is the will, a governmental term is bound to be too short for carrying through such reforms and introducing solutions.

However, the opportunity is real and the trend is clear. We will soon see an era where ECA property registers region-wide are used for mass valuation systems that serve equitable, value-based, property taxation.  This is a very positive prospect for the region, as it will eventually translate to better local services. Time to make it happen!

The joint FAO - World Bank Land Tenure Journal (.pdf) features nine cases studies and findings on property valuation and taxation in Europe and Central Asia.

Tax reform means, Dont tax you. Dont tax me. Go tax that fellow behind the tree.

-- the late Sen. Russell Long, D-La., who chaired the Senate Finance Committee throughout the 1970s.

The government of Australia has vowed to exempt digital currencies, such as bitcoin, from double taxation.

In a recently released policy statement, the Australian Government Treasury said it plans to make a country as a fintech destination first by reducing tax barriers for fintech investment, and then by curbing the existing goods-and-services tax (GST) levied on virtual currencies.

"The government recognizes that that the current treatment of digital currency under GST law means that consumers are 'double taxed' when using digital currency to buy anything already subject to GST," the government said in a statement.

Currently, there are more than 600 digital currencies around the world, each "with different protocols for transaction processing and confirmation."

The government has yet to identify the specific measures that it will put in place in connection with digital currencies, but Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison assured the Australian Financial Review that they will "take action to prevent the double taxation of digital currencies--we won't be taxing digital currencies."

Treasury officials noted the government has been working with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to develop a "regulatory sandbox" that will help fintech startups.

"We need a regulatory environment that provides consumers with confidence while not unnecessarily restricting the opportunities for innovation," the treasury stated.

In Japan, financial regulators are also weighing on a proposal that will see digital currencies treated as real money. Liberal Democratic Party legislator Tsukasa Akimoto proposed last month that bitcoins purchased should be exempt from an 8 percent consumption tax. Critics, however, believed that the 8 percent consumption tax rate will sap people's eagerness to use digital currency.

Japan is currently the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations that taxes bitcoins.

Last year, the European Court of Justice declared that exchanges of bitcoins and other digital currencies are to be treated like traditional money such as bank notes and coins, and are thus exempted from value added tax.

AudioSolutionz will host a live webinar on how to understand transportation fringe benefits and achieve payroll compliance. The webinar will be presented by Vicki M. Lambert, CPP, a payroll and compliance expert, on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Durham, NC (PRWEB) March 24, 2016 is the leading source of business-enhancing information. It has been providing business professionals high-quality and informative webinars on latest HR compliance hot topics for more than a decade. AudioSolutionz webinars cover a plethora of topics in HR and Payroll including hiring, retention, onboarding, employee benefits and taxation, travel pay, reasonable accommodation and others. HR professionals can gain needed knowledge and skills directly from nationally recognized HR and Payroll experts.

On Tuesday, April 5, 2016, AudioSolutionz will host a Live Webinar titled Detailing Transportation Fringe Benefits with expert speaker, trainer and author Vicki Lambert, CPP, a certified payroll compliance expert. She is a frequent speaker and trainer on payroll issues across the United States. She has worked as in-house trainer for businesses such as Sun Micro systems, Fox Studios, Disney, County of Riverside and the City of Hesperia.

Fringe benefits are property and services whose benefit to employees often outweighs the cost to the employer. Generally, fringe benefits are part of your employees taxable wages, but there are certain fringe benefits that are accepted from this rule and you can still take a business deduction for their cost. Nontaxable fringe benefits include no-additional-cost services, qualified employee discounts, working condition fringe benefits, very minimal fringe benefits and qualified transportation fringe benefits.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has strict guidelines on the taxation and reporting of transportation fringe benefits that must be adhered to in order to avoid audits and penalties. The definition of transportation fringe benefits ranges from providing a company car, paying for bus passes and parking spots to providing a bicycle and may even include the time spent on a private company plane. Additionally, the taxation requirements can be just as varied-from no taxation to the required use of algebraic formulas. Its a tall order and you are prone to missteps without an expert guiding your way.
During this live webinar, Vicki will provide a detailed overview of transportation fringe benefits and IRS taxation and reporting requirements to achieve payroll compliance in your organization. This will include: the personal use of a company car, proper accounting and taxation of auto allowances, personal use of company aircraft, and the IRS 132 fringe benefits such as parking and mass transit passes.

For more information visit:

About AudioSolutionz: is the countrys leading source of business-enhancing information. It has been providing business professionals high-quality and informative webinars for more than a decade. The company excels in providing practical, cutting-edge and pithiest information for businesses and professionals. Its HR amp; Payroll webinars provide needed knowledge to ensure compliance, hiring and retention best practices, increase employee productivity and performance, and be in tune with the latest regulatory updates.

About the Speaker:

Vicki M. Lambert, CPP is President and Academic Director of The Payroll Advisor(TM) a firm specializing in the training of payroll professionals. With over three decades of hands-on experience in all facets of payroll functions as well as over 20 years as a trainer and author, she is a sought-after and respected voice in the practice and management of payroll issues. She has conducted open market training seminars on payroll issues across the United States as well as serving as an in-house trainer for businesses such as Sun Micro systems, Fox Studios, Disney, County of Riverside and the City of Hesperia. Vicki is an adjunct faculty member at Brandman University in Southern California and is the creator and instructor for their Practical Payroll Online program, which is approved for recertification hours by the APA.

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