RE: [LandCafe] Oh dear. We are really stuck in our patterns here. Tant pis.
I looked a little more carefully – and by golly, it’s good!
From: LandCafe@yahoogroups.com [mailto:LandCafe@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Eric Britton
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 6:32 AM
Subject: [LandCafe] Oh dear. We are really stuck in our patterns here. Tant pis.
Excuse me customers of this nice warm watering hole, but I am sure I am a total schmuck because I am disappointed that NONE of you has thus far taken the time to click on over to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Land_value_tax and at least have a look at the entry that it provides on our important topic. (How do I know that? Heh heh.)
I dunno but are we frozen in time and old tools here, and are we just as happy as we can be with chatting and swapping this and that among like-minded folk? That’s cool of course but I don’t know if you have noticed or not but the world seems to be just whistling by the best of your ideas, and might that just possibly be because you are not able to edge them into the mainstream?
Now the Wikipedia – like it or not, and especially if you have easy ideas about it what it is and how it works based on something less than hands-on experience and real curiosity – is an important 21st century interface between the media, researchers, policy makers looking for a bit of help, students, citizens and the just plain curious about among other things new concepts and ideas that just might be ready to help us transform our societies – at a time of real need.
And yet the following along with a few references is all that this important reference work has to offer on our topic.
Now in my mind the goal is not to make it boringly long. Nor to harangue the world (and in any rate the editorial gremlins will get you for being “un encyclopedic”, meaning not neutral). But should it not ring a clear crystal bell and inspire interest and competence. And lead the reader to more and better?
I think so. But, hey, who am I anyway?
Your sweating, quite possibly incompetent barperson (No smoking, eh!)
Land value taxation (LVT) is the policy of raising state revenues by charging each landholder a portion of the value of a site or parcel of land that would exist even if that site had no improvements. It is different from a property tax, which includes the value of buildings and other improvements on the land.
One of the main arguments for LVT is that it encourages the efficient use of land, particularly in urban areas - one estimate of the efficiency gain puts it at £15,000 a year per person. An additional argument for LVT is that land values are created mainly by changes that are not the result of the landowner's own effort; for example, the creation of new infrastructure, or a re-zoning, can dramatically change the value of a piece of land. An LVT provides a way of recouping some of the windfall changes to land values that occur as a result of investment by government, placing less of the burden on taxpayers who don't benefit. The tax works in reverse also. If a development has a negative impact (the closing of a nearby transport link, for example) on land values, the owner of a site is compensated by an automatic reduction of the charge on the property.
The tax is often said to be justified for economic reasons because if it is implemented properly, it should not distort market mechanisms or otherwise damage the economy the way most taxes do. It is also said to be justified for reasons of fairness by asserting that the tax is equivalent to a fee for protection of land ownership, which is the primary activity of any state. It is a cheap (and therefore efficient) tax to administer because much less effort is required to track land ownership than to track income or sales transactions. Tax evasion on land is much more difficult than on financial wealth. For the same reason, it is also much more effective than a development or planning gain tax, which can be avoided by failing to develop.
As well as these pragmatic arguments LVT can be justified from the philosophical premise that the natural world was originally the common property of all persons, and therefore the LVT is not really a tax, but simply the collection of rent on behalf of the proper owners (the community). A consequence of this argument is that land should be taxed to the maximal extent and all proceeds should be equally distributed to each citizen as a citizen's dividend. This implementation of the LVT amounts to a moderate form of land reform. The most influential advocate of this position was the political economist and activist Henry George. Many contemporary American advocacy groups trace their heritage back to his thoughts and writings.
LVT is charged in Estonia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, and many more countries have used it in the past, particularly Denmark and Japan. It is currently being introduced in Namibia, and there are campaigns for its introduction to South Korea and Scotland. Several cities around the world also use LVT, including Sydney, Canberra, Mexicali and Fairhope, Alabama. In addition, some governments like Saudi Arabia and Alaska raise a large part of government revenues from fees related to extraction of minerals or oil.
In the United Kingdom, LVT was an important part of the platform of the British Liberal Party during the early part of the twentieth century - Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith proposed "to free the land that from this very hour is shackled with the chains of feudalism". It was also advocated by Winston Churchill early in his career. Labour's 1931 Budget included an LVT, but before it came into force it was repealed by the Conservative-dominated National Government that followed shortly after.
In 1990, several leading economists – including 4 Nobel Prize winners – wrote to then President Mikhail Gorbachev suggesting that Russia use Land Value Taxation in its transition towards a free market economy.
Some cities in the USA employ a two-rate property tax, which can be seen as a compromise between pure LVT and an ordinary asset-value property tax. Pittsburgh used this system from 1913 to 2001  when an ineffective property assessment system led to a drastic increase in assessed land values during 2001 after years of underassessment, and the system was abandoned in favor of a single-rate property tax. Pittsburgh 's tax on land was about 5.77 times the tax on improvements. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has taxed land at a rate six times that of improvements since 1975, and this policy is credited with reducing the number of vacant structures in downtown Harrisburg from about 4,200 in 1982 to less than 500.
The United States and some other countries have also started charging fees for use of spectrum or fees related to pollution; non-traditional variations on Land Value Taxation. (Note that in economics, land is also used as a generic term for certain kinds of natural resources other than areas of ground.)