End All Taxes -- Except One

Atlantic’s Ideas Issue -- How to fix the World

British youth are not married to homeownership while a Scottish government moves toward recovering land value for all society and Yank media keep this fundamental reform alive. We trim and blend five 2009 articles from: The Observer, Jun 14, on affordability; (2) Scottish & Universal Newspapers, Jun 20, on a council proposal; (3) University of New Hampshire, Jun 18, on a prof’s push; (4) The Atlantic, July/August, on fixing the world by Reihan Salam (Fellow at the New American Foundation) (via reader Heather Remoff); (5) NowPublic, June 21, on the CitDiv by Maireid Sullivan. NowPublic is a participatory news network which mobilizes an army of reporters to cover the events that define our world. In twelve short months, the company has become one of the fastest growing news organizations with thousands of reporters in over 140 countries.

by Observer, by Scottish & Universal Newspapers, by U of NH, by Salam, and by Sullivan:

UK’s housing needs new foundations

After 18 months of falling prices may, young people still have no cause for celebration. Research from the Chartered Institute of Housing out tomorrow will show that only a third of young people (18-to-24s) now aspire to own their own home.

There has also been a big change in attitudes among the 25-to-34 age group; only 69% think home ownership is a good thing, down from 83% before the credit crunch struck.

Britain, along with Spain, has the highest levels of owner occupancy in Europe, at something over 70%. In Germany, by contrast, only about 40% of people own their homes, although prices there have not risen in real terms for decades because of a declining population.

There are campaigners who argue that Britain should deal once and for all with its damaging boom-bust cycle in house prices by levying a land-value tax (LVT), using its proceeds used to replace council tax and reduce income tax.

LVT would reward work rather than property speculation and encourage, for example, an elderly person living in a large family house to move to a flat and free the house for a family in a country where space is limited. It would also discourage developers from sitting on empty sites and buildings.
LVTs are used elsewhere in the world. “The value of the land arises from community activity and services, and through investment in transport and infrastructure funded by the public purse,” Louanne Tranchell, chair of the Labour Land Campaign, adds.

Council tax alternative proposed

A replacement for the council tax, in favor of a system based on a combination of property and land values, is to be proposed by a local authority.
Glasgow City Council, Scotland’s biggest local authority, is to float the idea of a “hybrid” tax in a report being published next week.
The tax would be similar to that already in use in parts of the United States and Denmark, and in Sydney, Australia.

Professor: Tax Land Instead of Buildings

The land value tax, an increased tax rate on land and a reduced tax rate on buildings and improvements, can spur urban development and help contain sprawl, according to a new book co-edited by University of New Hampshire Professor Richard England.

Land Value Taxation: Theory, Evidence, and Practice reviews research on LVT and explores the results of its implementation in the United States, primarily in Hawaii and Pennsylvania, and abroad in Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Africa, Estonia, and elsewhere.

“We rely heavily on the property tax to fund government services in New Hampshire. we could make our property tax a lot better by taxing buildings at a lower rate and land values at a higher rate,” England said.

A tax on land value increases the density of development and reduces speculation in land.

It would keep what is good about the property tax -- taxation of land value -- and reduce what is bad -- taxation of the value of buildings and other improvements.

JJS: The book is published by the Lincoln Institute, founded by David Lincoln, a follower of Henry George.

How to fix the World

George found it perverse that we tax productive activities like work and innovative investment while letting landowners grow rich simply because they scooped up property at the right time. In that spirit, George called for a “Single Tax” on the unimproved value of land. In the years since George faded from the scene, a number of economists, from Milton Friedman to Paul Romer have found virtue in the Single Tax, not least because it creates the right incentives for government. Simply put, the better you govern, the more valuable the property. The more valuable the property, the more revenue you raise.

JJS: Say you did recover all the “rents” we spend. Then what would you do with them?

The Citizens Dividend Liberates Everyone

More efficient than trying to capture wealth downstream, after the elite has accumulated it, is to capture wealth upstream, preventing an elite from forming. A tax on income or sales or property captures wealth downstream, too late to do much good. Land dues, on the other hand, capture rent upstream, preventing the concentration of wealth by the more grasping among us.

-- from The Georgist News for July, 2009
Date: 1 July 2009 02:37:32 BST

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