Purpose – This paper attempts to empirically examine the property taxes and fees for residential development to determine whether they have a significant impact on house prices in Sydney and Taipei.Design/methodology/approach – Property charges and taxes in Sydney and Taipei are examined and compared. A conclusion is then drawn from the results of the analysis.Findings – It is found that property taxes and fees account for a substantial portion of property prices in Sydney but not Taipei. There is room for the government to reduce the amount of property taxes and fees to enhance housing affordability in Sydney.Research limitations/implications – This study has limitations in that only two cities are involved. As such, the findings are not exhaustive or conclusive. When conditions allow, a comprehensive study of all major cities in the two countries should be conducted. Nevertheless, this study does provide some background information about cost components of house prices and the impact of property taxes and fees in both cities. It may serve as a stepping stone for future research.Practical implications – High property taxes and fees are suspected to be a culprit for causing high house prices. The findings of the paper show that it is true in Sydney, but not Taipei. It implies that by cutting property taxes and fees alone may not solve the high house price problem.Originality/value – This paper demonstrates that high property taxes and fees have a significant impact on house prices in Sydney. However, their impact on house prices in Taipei is minimal. The difference shows that high property taxes and fees may not be the cause of high house prices in all countries.