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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Center for Policy Research
Yilin Hou

Yilin Hou

Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs


Yilin visited Japan from November 17th to 27th for a first-hand study of the design and administration of the real property tax. The Japanese property tax started in the 1950s, heavily (even tremendously) influenced by the American system. The original plan was an “advisory document” formulated by a group of American economists at the invitation of MacArthur, commander of the occupying forces. Then the Japanese adapted the proposed system to the country’s culture and tradition. In this sense, the Japanese property tax can be a useful reference in reforming the US local property taxes and in designing the tax for other countries.

Yilin met with professors at the College of Economics from Ritsumeikan University, Kansai University, and Fukuoka University. Among them are experts on Japanese taxation, real estate bubbles, and taxation theory, as well as a pracademic who was a high-ranking official in the National Tax Administration and then returned to academia.

Through contacts of these professors, Yilin visited municipal tax bureaus/departments of the City of Osaka and the Town of Shingu and had long meetings and discussions with local tax officials to obtain insight into value assessment of housing and land and other aspects of tax administration. Beyond the local level, Yilin also met with an office director of the National Tax Administration to get a glimpse at the top.

At Fukuoka University, Yilin gave a talk on “Optimal Design of Local Property Taxation” with cases from the US and China. The talk, followed with discussion, was well received. The visit to the City of Hiroshima inspired Yilin for a paper on sudden changes in land value after a dramatic disaster, followed by full scale urban planning and policy incentives for redevelopment to mobilize market forces.

This trip is part of Yilin’s ongoing project on property tax design and administration reform.