Menu

Municipal Rates and Taxes

… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.1

At least insofar as our homes and property are concerned, the Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 20042 makes sure of this. It bestows on municipalities the power to make and implement rating policies, including the establishment of valuation methods and criteria, reductions, rebates and exemptions.

The Act falls under the authority of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, but is effectively administered by municipalities. They designate either a municipal official or someone in private practice to be the ‘municipal valuer’,3 and he has a wide variety of duties, functions and powers.

The municipal valuer is responsible for valuing all properties in the area, preparing a valuation ‘roll’, to consider and decide on objections, attend appeal board hearings, and so on.

A. Valuers

  1. Any person who obstructs, hinders or threatens a valuer (whilst performing a function or duty under the Act) commits an offence.4

  2. A valuer is himself guilty of an offence if he is grossly negligent in the exercise of any of his functions of office.5 6

  3. He is also guilty of an offence if:
    • he fails to disclose any interest that he (or his spouse, parent, child, partner or business associate) might have in property in the municipality;7
    • he uses the position for private gain, or improperly to benefit another person.8
  4. It is an offence for a municipal valuer to disclose any information obtained while inspecting a property, or questioning somebody or examining documents in order to value a property, except if required by law.9

  5. If a municipal valuer requests you, as owner, tenant or occupier of property (or as agent of the owner) to allow him access to any document or information he requires for valuing the property, or to provide particulars regarding the property, you are guilty of an offence if you fail to do so.10

B. Objections to Valuations

  1. It is a criminal offence to give information in an objection to a valuation which, knowingly, is false.11

C. Appeal

  1. It is a criminal offence to give information in an appeal against a decision about a valuation which, knowingly, is false.12

  2. It is an offence, if you are summoned to appear as a witness at an appeal board hearing and:
    • you fail13 or refuse14 to attend;
    • you fail to remain present at the proceedings until excused;15
    • you fail to produce the documents specified in your summons;16
    • you refuse to answer questions, or to produce documents in your custody.17
  3. A member of an appeal board commits an offence if:
    • he fails to disclose any interest that he (or his spouse, parent, child, partner or business associate) might have in any matter before the appeal board;18
    • he uses the position or privileges of membership for private gain, or improperly to benefit another person.19
  4. It is an offence for any member of an appeal board to disclose any information obtained while inspecting a property, or questioning somebody or examining documents for the purposes of the appeal, except if required by law.

D. Agents

  1. Sometimes, property owners let out their property and appoint agents to receive the rental (and other payments) for the property. If it is more convenient for the municipality, it can recover rates and taxes from the agent. An agent commits an offence if he is requested by the municipality to furnish a statement specifying all payments for rent on the property (or other money received on behalf of the owner) and fails to do so.20

  2. If a municipal valuer requests you, as owner, tenant or occupier of property (or as agent of the owner) to allow him access to any document or information he requires for valuing the property, or to provide particulars regarding the property, you are guilty of an offence if you fail to do so.21

  1. Written by Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789. Leroy was a French Scientist who befriended Franklin whilst he was the US Ambassador to France from 1776 to 1785. 

  2. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 29 of 2014. 

  3. A municipal valuer must be registered as a professional valuer in terms of the Property Valuers Profession Act 2000. 

  4. Section 86(1)(b). 

  5. Section 34 of the Act sets out a list of functions. Valuers beware! 

  6. Section 86(2). 

  7. Section 86(1)(a). 

  8. Section 86(1)(a). 

  9. Section 86(1)(a). 

  10. Section 86(1)(f). 

  11. Section 86(1)(c). 

  12. Section 86(1)(c). 

  13. Section 86(1)(d)(i). 

  14. Section 86(1)(e)(i). 

  15. Section 86(1)(d)(ii). 

  16. Section 86(1)(d)(iii). 

  17. Section 86(1)(e)(ii) and (iii). 

  18. Section 86(1)(a). 

  19. Section 86(1)(a). 

  20. Section 86(1)(f). 

  21. Section 86(1)(f).