Tax map

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Tax map
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Tax Map - a document that enables taxpayers to identify the identification number of a property. They are used mainly for calculating and paying property tax. The maps are intended to enable the tax authorities to account for all properties within their jurisdiction and to identify them in such a way that the taxpayer cannot avoid taxation. However, tax maps are not a legally binding document and cannot be used as a basis for recognizing ownership of a particular plot of land.

History of nordic states and tax mapping

In the Nordic countries, tax mapping dates back to the 18th century on the island of Gotland. Also in the nineteenth century, it was possible to see the use of tax mapping as a tool for collecting public debt. Important in history, it is the tax evasion by the Nordic nobles on the basis of false statements about their land. It was then that Karl XI ordered an investigation and a precise determination of the area of the plots owned by the nobles. Such action resulted from unreliable and false testimony as to the surface of the land, thus significantly depleting the treasury of the kingdom. Moreover, this method was by no means modern, since most of the old feudal states used this method for more efficient collection precisely so that all taxes were paid according to the actual situation[1].

Modern use of tax mapping

In the past, they were stored in documentary form, so they were converted to digital versions as technology evolved. For example, on the New York City Government [website], any taxpayer who owns a property in the tax map area can check the following records:

  • current tax map;
  • library of tax maps;
  • history of tax map changes; and
  • historical alteration books.

The website presents five major districts of New York City such as Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan. Each of them has received an appropriate tax rate for all parcels, which allows taxpayers to check what kind of tax they will have to pay for a given year. Historical information is available in PDF format, however it is available for parcels that were mapped in certain area only after 2008. Although tax maps could be considered an ideal tool to dispel doubts as to the legal title to real estate, but the benefits of merging the legal with the tax register are significantly overestimated. The legal cadaster is characterized by much higher standards, which generate higher costs than the fiscal cost of the cadaster[2].

Methods of tax mapping

When creating tax maps, public land survey system (PLSS), shippers'; positions, sizes of plots and areas of plots are mainly used. Most of the calculations are carried out using specialized computer programs, which use satellite mapping to determine the most accurate dimensions of the property. Cloud technology in particular is helpful in such activities, as it makes it possible to store all relevant data and then compare it with previous years[3].

Critics of tax mapping

Critics of tax mapping point out that in a given system there are many times situations in which the real market value of a property does not correspond to its tax base. Moreover, they note that neighborhoods or houses are sometimes overestimated or underestimated. They therefore argue that real estate should not only be taxed on the basis of its market value but also on the basis of its additional equipment and common features. Such action is intended to ensure fair treatment of taxpayers and to prevent harmful activities of tax authorities, characterized mainly by political motivations[4].


  1. W. Dilinger 1991, p.13
  2. R. Kain, E. Baigent 1992, p. 8-10
  3. R. Kremenec, C. Carlson 1994, p.1
  4. G. Thrall 1987, p. 112-113


Author: Maria Bartkowska