Re: [LandCafe] Article for "Valuer" June 2005
- Entire draft article pasted in below:-
Tax Reform & Value Maps
by Tony Vickers
Article for "Valuer" June 2005 - not for release before then.
For the past year, HM Treasury's team of property tax experts has been twice its normal size. Much of their work has involved studying land value taxation (LVT).
Labour has a re-activated Land Campaign championing LVT. In its local form site value rating (SVR), LVT remains a policy of the Liberal Democrats - as replacement for non-domestic rates (NDR) in England & Wales. The Greens in Scotland have polled well with LVT one of their top five policies.
These three parties have come together in Oxfordshire (cover story Sept 2004) to carry out a study of LVT, using IRRV member Rob Kane to produce site-only valuations. The very day Mr Blair called the recent election, Oxfordshire County Council passed a motion calling on Government to "proceed with trials" of LVT.
Treasury's interest centres around three critical policy problems: unrest about council tax (CT); shortfalls in public infrastructure finance (rail, water, etc); and the over-heated housing market. Key advisers seem convinced they have found one answer to all three - but "the devil is in the detail" and Government needs answers early in this Parliament.
Taxes and Treasuries are not just for revenue collection. They are also tools and agents of economic management and social justice. Having studied results from recent Oxford and Liverpool LVT trials, officials should co-ordinate and encourage others now preparing studies in Kent, Newcastle, London and Scotland. Computers make it easier as e-government brings property information together: land values 'drop out' of modern computer models if enough good property market data goes in. Since the models can be kept up-to-date, why not 'reveal the landvaluescape' constantly and make property taxation both fair and transparent? However there are problems.
First there needs to be a complete Land Register. This is planned for around 2015 but at present land not subject to transactions is only registered voluntarily by owners. Secondary legislation would be needed to force such land onto registers in England & Wales.
Second there would be significant costs in re-engineering IT systems. Assuming LVT replaced at least one of CT/NDR, some costs in running those systems would be saved. However VOA is already undergoing substantial modernisation, making it harder to justify another major upgrade soon.
Third we would need ways to assess what 'highest and best use' is of all sites, in our highly - but not fully - regulated property market. This has political implications for all who hold and use land: companies as well as individuals.
These relatively technical issues pale into insignificance compared to the fourth basic problem: all radical tax reform is hard to sell to voters. They suspect Government of using LVT to tax more not differently. Many voters lose out, even if far more win clearly and quickly. Exceptional political nerve is required. Only wide cross-party consensus will allow LVT to happen.
A reassuring aspect of the Oxfordshire trial was that politicians from three parties worked effectively alongside their salaried professional officers. The benefits coming from having better information about land and property were seen by all. Despite lack of access to key Government-held datasets, costs of the exercise were lower than expected. Over two-thirds of residents and businesses in the trial area would apparently pay less tax, so it isn't surprising that Treasury want to study the trial report.
If London wants to secure the Olympics in 2012, its Mayor should be allowed to pay for the necessary infrastructure projects - such as CrossRail - from part of the land value uplift in all property values they produce. A London-wide LVT could be the revenue stream Ken needs.
These are exciting times for property tax experts.
 Tony Vickers is an independent land policy researcher who has been studying LVT since 1997, with help from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge MA USA and Kingston University - where he is currently completing a PhD at the School of Surveying on Visualising Landvaluescape: Developing the concept for Britain. www.landvaluescape.org and tonyvickers@...
 See article by Frances Plimmer in "Valuer" Dec/Jan 2003 pp. 10-11
 See article by Almy & Gloudemans in "Valuer" Aug/Sep 2003 pp10-11
 See article by Jon Heard in "Valuer" Jan/Feb 2005 pp 16-17
----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Mendel
To: Tony Vickers
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2005 6:30 PM
Subject: Re: [LandCafe] Article for "Valuer" June 2005
Hope you're well. The LandCafe Yahoo group seems to have removed your draft (I don't think it accepts attachments). Perhaps you could paste your 600 words into the body of your e-mail, if you want to send it to the discussion group.
All the best,
Tony Vickers wrote:
The Editor of Valuer has asked me for 600 words explaining "what's happening with LVT, who's currently interested in it and why?" This is my draft. Copy has to be with her by 15 April, although the piece won't be published until several weeks after the election.
Do you have any problems with this? I have referenced several pieces on related subjects that have appeared in this journal, which is read by the key practitioners and has covered LVT at least since I began researching the subject in 1998.
You may be interested to learn that Oxfordshire County Council passed a motion yesterday calling on Government to support LVT trials. The link is here
The Council is putting out a Press Release today.
The voting was 32:17 - Conservatives voted against but the Leader of Council (Con.) said he would do the Council's bidding and write to relevant Government Departments. However after the council has all-out elections on 5 May and the future of any local extension to the trial will be a subject for negotiation: Tories are unlikely to want it to proceed.
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