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Different cities, different propertytax-rate regimes: Is it fair in an open and democratic society?

Fanie Van Zyl
Carika Fritz


Differentiation does not automatically mean that a person’s right to equality has been infringed on. Thus, the mere fact that taxpayers are subject to  different property tax rates in South Africa depending on the municipality in which the property falls does not necessarily result in an infringement of  section 9 of the Constitution: a specific analysis is required in order to determine the constitutionality thereof. In this article, we examine whether the  different rates applicable to properties based on where the property is situated are constitutionally sound vis-à-vis the right to equality. In order to do so,  we compare the property tax rates and rebates that apply in respect of residential property in the capital cities of the nine provinces in South Africa. The  first part of the article considers the general approach adopted by the courts in establishing whether section 9 of the Constitution has been violated. The  second part discusses the legislative framework of property tax, after which the equality enquiry is conducted on the differentiation that occurs in regard  to property situated in different municipalities. Lastly, we offer some recommendations in our closing remarks.