Once you're familiar with the ideas of Henry George, an
obvious question is "how do we get from here to there, and who is affected
in the process?"
This reform is both a local one (reforming the property tax and
getting rid of local and state taxes on buildings, sales and wages) and
national one (starting to collect an increasing share of the economic
value of natural
resources, reasonable user fees, broadcast spectrum, etc. — see
"land includes" and "sources
of rent" for more about this aspect).
And then the question becomes how many years it is reasonable to ask
people to wait for such a reform to be complete, once it is begun. (See
It is an axiom of statesmanship, which the successful founders of tyranny
have understood and acted upon that great changes can best be brought about
under old forms. We, who would free men, should heed the same truth. It
is the natural method. When nature would make a higher type, she takes
a lower one and develops it. This, also, is the law of social growth. Let
us work by it. With the current we may glide fast and far. Against it,
it is hard pulling and slow progress.
By making use of this existing machinery, we may, without jar or shock, assert
the common right to land by appropriating rent by taxation. We already take some
rent in taxation. We have only to make some changes in our modes of taxation
to take it all.*
*Rent in the economic sense is not, as those unfamiliar
with economic terminology may assume, the whole amount paid for the
use of real estate. It is only that part of such amount which is paid
for the use of the bare land or site employed, exclusive of the payment
for the use of any buildings or other improvements on it. H. G. B.
In form, the ownership of land would remain just as now. No owner of land
need be dispossessed, and no restriction need be placed upon the amount
of land any one could hold. For, rent being taken by the State in taxes,
land, no matter in whose name it stood, or in what parcels it was held,
would be really common property, and every member of the community would
participate in the advantages of its ownership.
Now, insomuch as the taxation of rent, or land values, must necessarily
be increased just as we abolish other taxes, we may put the proposition
into practical form by proposing --
to abolish all taxation save that upon land
As we have seen, the value of land is at the beginning of society nothing,
but as society develops by the increase of population and the advance of
the arts, it becomes greater and greater. In every civilized country, even
the newest, the value of the land taken as a whole is sufficient to bear
the entire expenses of government. In the better developed countries it
is much more than sufficient. Hence it will not be enough merely to place
all taxes upon the value of land. It will be necessary, where rent exceeds
the present governmental revenues, commensurately to increase the amount
demanded in taxation, and to continue this increase as society progresses
and rent advances. But this is so natural and easy a matter, that it may
be considered as involved, or at least understood, in the proposition to
put all taxes on the value of land. That is the first step upon which the
practical struggle must be made. When the hare is once caught and killed,
cooking him will follow as a matter of course. When the common right to
land is so far appreciated that all taxes are abolished save those which
fall upon rent, there is no danger of much more than is necessary to induce
them to collect the public revenues being left to individual landholders.
Wherever the idea of concentrating all taxation upon land values finds
lodgment sufficient to induce consideration, it invariably makes way, but
there are few of the classes most to be benefited by it, who at first,
or even for a long time afterward, see its full significance and power.
- It is difficult for workingmen to get over the idea that there is a
real antagonism between capital and labor.
- It is difficult for small farmers and homestead owners to get over
the idea that to put all taxes on the value of land would be unduly to
- It is difficult for both classes to get over the idea that to exempt
capital from taxation would be to make the rich richer, and the poor
These ideas spring from confused thought. But behind ignorance and prejudice
there is a powerful interest, which has hitherto dominated literature,
education, and opinion. A great wrong always dies hard, and the great wrong
which in every civilized country condemns the masses of men to poverty
and want, will not die without a bitter struggle. ... read the whole chapter
Bill Batt: Painless Taxation
Real tax reform could do away with those taxes that are resented
by the large proportion of our population. We could replace all taxes on
wages and on interest by instead taxing economic rent. Rent is windfall income;
it is income that arises not from the efforts of any person or corporation;
it comes about as a surplus gain from common social enterprise. There is
ample moral warrant for society to lay claim to that which it has created,
as well as to that which no individual or party has earned. Analysis increasingly
makes clear that economic rent in all its forms is far larger than official
government figures indicate; in fact it is likely sufficient to supplant
all current taxes on labor and capital (wages and interest) which are acknowledged
to have so many negative effects. Recovering economic rent in all its manifestations
by taxing its various bases actually can foster economic performance and
yield other benefits that make it the natural source of revenue for governments.
Such a tax is essentially painless. ... read the whole article
Louis Post: Outlines of Louis F. Post's
Lectures, with Illustrative Notes and Charts (1894) — Appendix:
Q27. Would working people, whose savings are in savings banks or insurance
companies which own land or have mortgages upon land, lose by the shrinkage
in land values?
A. Not if the companies were managed intelligently. Well managed companies would
shift their investments as they observed the persistent decline of land values.
They would do it even as soon as conditions appeared which would naturally cause
land values to shrink. But working people could well afford to give all their
savings for the permanent employment and high wages that the single tax would
bring about. It is not working people but idle people who would lose anything
by the single tax.
wealthandwant editorial comment: Post may be confusing land prices and
land value. Land value will continue to rise; land price will
fall, as the land tax is capitalized into the price. ... read the book
Charles B. Fillebrown: A Catechism
of Natural Taxation, from Principles of
Natural Taxation (1917)
Q62. Would it be wise to take gradually in taxation, say, 1/4,
one half, or 3/4 of the future increase in economic
A. One hundred and one professors of political
economy have answered "Yes." Twenty-nine have answered "No."
Q63. How could the single tax be put into
A. By gradually transferring to land all taxes not
already on it.
Q64. How might such a plan be worked out?
A. If fifty cents per thousand should be deducted yearly for 30 years from the
rate on all property other than land, the reduction would finally amount to $15
per thousand, and it would then
be practically exempt from all taxation.
Q65. But how could it be worked out in case of
A. Recognizing that a right thing may be done in a wrong way, it is insisted
that a right way ought to be found to do a thing that ought to be done. The following
is presented as a natural
and convenient unit of calculation:
To be exact, an average of about 20 percent
of the gross ground rent of land is now taken in taxation, for instance, in Boston,
as well as for the whole state of Massachusetts. If an additional one percent
should be taken each year for 30 years, it would amount at the end of that period
to 30 percent, which, added to 20 percent, would make 50 percent, or one half,
which is about the average proportion that present taxes levied on all property
bear to gross ground rent. Meantime few landowners would feel the change, much
less be prejudiced by it.
The following variable illustrations, A, B, and C, make clear.
A "Modus Operandi"
A Increase of Present Tax
For instance, applied to the assessment of a specific lot of land for which
the user pays a gross ground rent of say ...... $68.00
Of which amount there is taken in taxation, 1915 ..... $18.00
Leaving a net income to the owner of .... $50.00
The selling value (presumably also the assessed valuation) would be at 5 per
cent ... $1,000.00
Proceeding to take yearly from now on 1 per cent additional of the gross ground
rent of $68 for a period of thirty years would amount in all to 30 per cent
of $68, equal to .... $20.40
Which, added to the tax already taken .... $18.00
Would give at the end of thirty years, from the $1,000 worth of land alone,
everything else being exempted, a total tax of .... $38.40.
Which is not much more than one half of the gross ground rent of ... $68.00
The opening exhibit in detail would stand as follows:
In 1915 the tax on this $1,000 worth of land was $18.00
In 1916 the tax would be $18 plus 68 cents (1 per cent of the gross ground
rent, $68); equal to .... $18.68
Reducing the owner's net rent from $50 to $49.32
In 1917 the tax would be $18 plus $1.36 (2 per cent of the $68), totaling ....
Reducing the owner's net rent from $50 to $48.64,
In 1918 the tax would be $18 plus $2.04 (3 per cent of the $68) or $20.45
Reducing the owner's net rent from $50 to $47.96
In 1945 the tax on the land would be $18 plus $20.40 (30 per cent of the $68)
or ... $38.40
With all improvements exempted.
Reducing the owner's net rent from $50 to $29.60.
The taking in taxation of any desired
proportion of the future increment could be accomplished simply by continuing
the present valuation and present rate as constant factors, and making a separate
individual assessment of the increment tax after the following or similar formula,
according to the proportion to be taken. For instance, to take in taxation
50 per cent of the future increase:
For a Future Increment Tax
||Tax for year 1916,
||Tax for year 1917,
||Tax for year 1918,
||Tax for year 1919,
||Tax for year 1920,
In applying this formula it would be necessary after the first few years at least
to increase the rate to correspond to the decrease in assessed valuation due
to this new tax. For computations upon
this and related points, see the Report of
the New York City Commission on New Sources of City Revenue (1913), p.
7 and Appendices X to XV.
It should be reiterated that inasmuchas gross ground rent, actual or potential,
is the initial factor in getting at the value of land, it cannot be unprofitable
to become familiar with a more correct formula
as expressed in terms of rent.
The Assessment of Rent
Starting with the present unit of annual value for use to take in taxation in
25 years 50 per cent of the future increase in ground rent:
||Tax for year 1916,
||Tax for year 1917,
||Tax for year 1918,
||Tax for year 1919,
|Tax for year 1920,
||Tax for year 1940,
... read the whole article
Fred E. Foldvary — The
Ultimate Tax Reform:
Public Revenue from Land Rent
How to make the transition
The switch to land value taxation will affect most significantly those who
own land at the time of the transition. These are the persons who have been
subsidized, receiving site rental and land value from civic works paid for
mostly by taxes on wages when earned or spent. But even many landowners would
not see their total tax burden rise. Their wages, profits, interest, and consumption
would all become untaxed, and taxes on their buildings and other improvements
would be eliminated.
As shown by the equations earlier in this report, the land value tax is not
even any burden on future owners of the land, since the tax on the land reduces
its purchase price. What the owner pays in a tax on his geo-rent, he saves
in not having to pay that amount as mortgage interest. There are two ways of
addressing any net burden that might fall on current landowners during a shift
to land value taxes.
First, landowners could be compensated.
Second, the shift could be implemented gradually, allowing land values to fall
to accommodate the expected and gradually implemented tax shift.
As a concrete example, the transition to land value taxation can be accomplished
in these steps:
1. Each county expands its register of all real estate and the title holders
to include all lands owned by governments and previously non-registered
2. Local real estate taxes are split into two taxes, one on land value
and one on improvements.
3. The county real estate assessment function is transferred to
land value assessment boards, comprised of representatives from
and municipal governments as well as real estate professionals
and scholars. These boards appoint assessors and establish an appeals
to current real estate tax appeals.
4. All land is assessed at its current market value.
5. Over a period of years, depending on how much land values already
have fallen in anticipation of the tax shift, the tax on improvements
is reduced, while
the tax on land values is increased. (An immediate tax shift
to geo-rent, with other taxes reduced or abolished, could be compensated,
losses, with special bonds whose face-value interest payments
decrease over time; this would have an effect similar to the
in the geo-rent tax rate.)
6. Sales taxes, tariffs, and excise taxes are reduced and eventually
7. The personal exemption in federal income taxes is raised each
year, until it eventually includes all income, at which time
all state and
income taxes are abolished. The taxation of corporate profits
is also phased out.
8. The value of material land (minerals, oil, water, etc.),
the electromagnetic spectrum, naturally growing forests,
natural resources is taxed
at gradually increasing rates up to a substantial amount,
if not all, of the unimproved
9. An amendment to the Constitution is enacted prohibiting
any taxation of wages, sales, profits, value-added, or
taxation of the value of land and other natural resources,
along with voluntary user fees and charges for pollution
only sources of
public revenues. The amendment also establishes a land
value tax commission with representatives from the federal, state,
Indian-nation governments to divide the taxes raised. Generally,
taxes raised from off-shore
oil and water, atmospheric pollution, airline routes, and
other continental uses would be allocated to the federal
and the rest would
be allocated to the state (or provincial, in Canada), local,
territorial, and Indian-nation
governments. If the national government needs additional
revenue, it is obtained from the state or territorial governments
their land value,
as was specified in the Articles of Confederation that
preceded the U.S. Constitution.
10. Top-down revenue sharing from federal to state and
from state to local government stops. Many services,
functions, and agencies
the central government to the state/provincial and local
governments. ... read
the whole document
Fred Foldvary: Geo-Rent:
A Plea to Public Economists
GRADUAL REFORM: 20 YEARS TO 75
PERCENT A shift to public finance from geo-rent would
be politically difficult,
which may help explain why it has not been done. The political
difficulty, however, exists despite the fact that most homeowners,
being also wage earners, would have a net gain if other taxes,
including the property tax on improvements, were simultaneously
abolished. But some current landowners, especially of urban commercial
real estate, would have a net loss, unless we build in some kind of
“compensation.” Economists are accustomed to saying that a tough
transition — plant-closings, declining industries, retooling and
retraining—should not deter the long-term good. The same should apply
I suggest the following transition to geo-rent taxation, if only
to serve as a conceptual model:
0: The new regime is enacted into law.
Years 1 through 10: The
landowner continues to pay the roughly 25 percent of the geo-rent now
implicit in his current property taxes. (If the property tax is 2
percent of land value and the capitalization rate (real interest rate)
is 6 percent, that works out to about 25 percent of geo-rent, which is
an annualized dimension.)
Year 11: He pays 30 percent.
Year 12: He pays 35 percent.
Year 13: He pays 40 percent.
Year 14: He pays 45 percent.
Year 15: He pays 50 percent.
Year 16: He pays 55 percent.
Year 17: He pays 60 percent.
Year 18: He pays 65 percent.
Year 19: He pays 70 percent.
Year 20: He pays 75 percent.
Thereafter: He pays 75 percent.
Here are a number of points the
help to flesh out the scheme:
- The scheme applies also to government-owned land. The
government agency, such as the Bureau of Land Management or the United
States Postal Service, would pay geo-rent for the land it owns. This
will improve government cost accounting and policy decisions.
- To which level of government are geo-rent taxes paid? This
important question, but I wish to sidestep it here. For present
purposes, one may imagine a system in which, like property taxes today,
geo-rent taxes would be collected at the level of county government.
When such taxes are sufficiently large, they would flow both down to
the city governments and up to the state and national governments.
- The other side of the scheme, not detailed here, is the
of buildings, sales, income, etc. Thus, the scheme involves an enormous
confiscation of land-wealth and an enormous de-confiscation of other
kinds of wealth.
A reform like that suggested
here would, of course, require a movement
and public debate taking years, if not decades. Once enacted, during
the first 10 years, the landowners pay no more in geo-rent than they
are accustomed to paying. All this lead-up time will give people time
to figure out what geo-rent taxation means, and to work out in markets
the present values of land, in anticipation of the coming increases in
The financial burden is only on the owners who are current at
the geo-rent tax is increased. What is not so well recognized in public
finance is that, after the
transition to geo-rent taxation, there is no burden on any new site
owner. The price of land is capitalized down in proportion to the tax
rate, so the payment of the tax is offset by the lower price of land.
However, if we may neglect the consequences on the dependents and heirs
of the current landowners, after the transitional generation, no one
suffers a burden.
The impact on the current landowners raises issues of
While advocates of tapping geo-rent for public revenue argue that it is
equitable, because it pays back geo-rent generated by government’s
civic works, critics argue that the transition would not be equitable,
because the financial burden would be concentrated on landowners.
Robert Solow (1998, 278) states that while taxing geo-rent would be
good for a new country, “Expropriating land values today would have no
semblance of fairness.” He adds, however, that if the transition is
gradual or if there is compensation, then “the complaint of iniquity
may lose validity.”
An immediate tax shift to geo-rent, with other taxes reduced or
abolished, could be compensated with special bonds whose face-value
interest payments would decrease over time, with an effect similar to
the gradual increase in the geo-rent tax rate suggested above. But
compensation is a side issue. I say we try to sell the reform to the
current landowners on its merits, just as we would argue for a
reduction in trade barriers, as a worthy sacrifice, and offer our
gratitude for their political cooperation. (I say this as the owner of
a prime plot in Berkeley, California!) Read
the entire article
Nic Tideman: The Case for Site
The Social Justice of Site Value
The Efficiency of Site Value Rating
How Valuations would be Made
Both for reasons of social justice
and for reasons of economic
efficiency, site value rating deserves a continued place in the
programme of the Liberal Party.
The case for site value rating in
terms of social justice is
founded on two understandings: first, that the value of land in the
absence of economic development is the common heritage of humanity,
and second, that increases in the rental value of land arising from
economic development and government expenditures should be collected
by governments to finance those activities. What is meant by "land"
is the unimproved value of sites and the value of extractable natural
resources such as North Sea oil.
While there may someday be
institutions capable of implementing a
recognition of land as the heritage of all humanity on a worldwide
basis, in the absence of such institutions each nation should
implement a recognition that land within its boundaries is the common
heritage of its citizens. This is accomplished not by making the
nation a gigantic Common or by instituting government management of
all land, but rather by requiring all persons and corporations that
are granted the use of land to pay a fee or tax equal to what the
rental value of the land they control would be if it were in an
The case for site value rating in
terms of economic efficiency is
founded on the fact that a tax on resources that are not produced by
human effort is one of the few sources of government revenue that
does not reduce incentives for people to be productive. Two other
revenue sources that have this virtue are taxes on other
government-granted privileges such as exclusive use of radio
frequencies and taxes on activities with harmful consequences, such
as polluting the air. An economy will be more efficient if revenue
sources that do not diminish productivity are employed to the
greatest possible extent before any use is made of taxes that impede
What makes a tax efficient is that
the amount of tax that is due
cannot be reduced by reducing productive activities. When incomes are
taxed, people can reduce the amount of taxes owed by working less.
They do so, and the productivity of the economy falls. When houses
are taxed, people can reduce the amount of taxes owed by building
fewer house and smaller houses. They do so, and the housing shortage
worsens. But when the unimproved value of land is taxed, there is no
resulting diminution in the quantity of land. Thus taxes can be
levied on land without diminishing the productivity of an economy.
And shifting taxes from other, destructive bases to land will improve
the productivity of an economy.
Subsequent sections explain in
more detail these social justice
and efficiency arguments for site value rating, describe procedures
for implementing such a tax system, and explain why a variety of
potential objections are without merit. ...
... if the full rental value of
land is collected through site value
rating, then the sale value of unimproved land will fall to
approximately zero. The sale value of houses will fall to the value
of the houses themselves. Do the owners of land deserve compensation
for these reductions in the market value of their wealth?
First, it should be pointed out
that the average taxpayer will pay
the same tax as before, but in a different form. Site value rating
will be substituted for some combination of income taxes, excise
taxes, community charges, property value rates, and other taxes. A
person should not complain about a change in the form of the taxes he
pays if the total is the same. The above argument would be sufficient
if every individual paid the same total tax after the change, but of
course this will not occur. To some extent, increases in the sale
value of capital will offset decreases in the sale value of land.
This occurs because, by a removal of taxes from capital, site value
rating will greatly increase the private returns to capital. This
will generate a massive flow of capital toward any nation or region
that reduces its taxes on capital. But such flows cannot occur
instantaneously, and before they are completed the reductions in
taxes on capital will raise the value of capital. In general, young
persons will benefit more than older persons from a move to site
value rating, because they tend to own less expensive plots of land
if they own land at all, and they have many years ahead of them to
benefit from reduction in other taxes. Those who are yet unborn will
benefit most of all, because their birthrights to equal shares of the
provenance of nature, as well as to the product of their labour, will
be recognized. Net financial losses will tend to be greatest for
older persons. Their houses will fall in sale value. They will be
required to pay annually the rental value of the land on which their
houses sit, without as much in reductions of their income taxes, and
with fewer years ahead of them to reap tax savings. On the other
hand, they will have less concern about providing for their children,
because houses will be much easier for their children to acquire.
Further offsetting any claim to compensation would be any past
unearned profits that potential claimants had made on ownership of
In some circumstances, a claim for
compensation would have merit.
If a person had purchased a title to land from the government just
before the introduction of site value rating, that person could
reasonably claim compensation from government action that eliminated
the value of his purchase. Even if a substantial amount of time has
passed, it can be argued that a government should not be permitted to
eliminate by legislation the value of an asset that it has sold. On
this basis, anyone who owned land that was at one time purchased from
the government would have a reasonable claim on a return of the
(inflation adjusted) price for which the land was purchased from the
government. A claim for interest on the purchase price could not be
sustained, however. The use of the land since the time of purchase
offsets the interest that could otherwise be claimed.
What of land that was at one time
granted by the crown without
payment for the title, and land that has risen substantially in value
since it was purchased from the government? The government is not
obliged to provide compensation for these losses from general tax
revenues, because the source of these losses is the mistaken belief
that private appropriation of the rent of land can be just. It
cannot. The present generation of taxpayers should not be required to
pay for this mistaken belief on the part of their forbearers. On the
other hand, every person who has sold land in the past has fostered,
to his profit, the mistaken belief that the rent of land can justly
be privately appropriated. On this basis, all past profits from the
sale of land, and all inheritances based on such profits, with
accumulated interest, can be appropriated to provide compensation for
those whose land falls in value to less than they paid for it, upon
introduction of site value rating.
It is possible that the
administrative cost of such an undertaking
would be so great as to make it infeasible, while at the same time
its moral justice was recognized. On this basis one can justify a
"capital levy," a one-time charge on all capital in the nation, to
provide compensation for those who lose from the introduction of site
value rating. The justification of the capital levy would be that the
amount of capital that a person owned was the best readily available
indicator of past gains that a person had made from the sale of
land.... Read the whole article
Jeff Smith and Kris Nelson: Giving
Life to the Property Tax Shift (PTS)
John Muir is right. "Tug on any
thing and find it connected to everything else in the universe." Tug on
the property tax and find it connected to urban slums, farmland loss,
political favoritism, and unearned equity with disrupted neighborhood
tenure. Echoing Thoreau, the more familiar reforms have failed to
address this many-headed hydra at its root. To think that the root
could be chopped by a mere shift in the property tax base -- from
buildings to land -- must seem like the epitome of unfounded faith. Yet
the evidence shows that state and local tax activists do have a
powerful, if subtle, tool at their disposal. The "stick" spurring
efficient use of land is a higher tax rate upon land, up to even the
site's full annual value. The "carrot" rewarding efficient use of land
is a lower or zero tax rate upon improvements. ...
Starting in 1914, Pittsburgh and Scranton
introduced "the graded tax." Over a decade they phased in a higher rate
on land until it was twice the rate on buildings. Doing so gradually
allowed residents and businesses time to adapt, giving the PTS
political acceptability. Tho' this delayed benefits, land speculators
offered little opposition since they did not face the sudden effects of
the full shift. Such an approach is still prudent today.
On the other hand, the shifting the property tax can be rapid and
orderly. Economies and societies do endure price shocks, such as the
doubling of gas pump prices in the early 70s. Yet to avoid that
resultant acrimony, the PTS could be phased in gradually. Over five
years, tax rates could change 20% per year.
Governments can rely on land rents, not on
property, as a stable source
of revenue thruout the business cycle. Such reliable revenue flows
should give governments the confidence to alleviate hardship with
various reductions, eventho' doing so would reduce revenue. Ways to
ease the transition include monthly or quarterly payments, discounts
for early payments, rebates of income or sales taxes, and a cap on how
fast land dues may rise. Ways to lift the burden from those unable to
- Year One, the levy upon
sites, resources, and government granted privileges (e.g., utility
franchises, medical licenses, taxi medallions) would increase by 20% of
uncollected annual value. All other taxes would fall by 20%, or
policymakers could exempt the bottom quintile form taxes.
- Year Two, if
all goes well, 40% of natural value would be collected while other
taxes would fall 40%. Years Three and Four, the process continues.
Year Five, if all goes well, all natural value is collected while all
other taxes are eliminated. If government projects a shortfall in
revenue, the process could be drawn out.
A big problem needs a big solution which
in turn needs a
matching shift of our prevailing paradigm. Geonomics -- advocating that
we share the social value of sites and natural resources and untax
earnings -- does just that. Read the whole article
- exemptions for the elderly over a
until sale or bequest of property,
- deferral for the certified
- partial exemptions for farmers at a
- moving cost-sharing.
Herbert J. G. Bab: Property
Tax -- Cause of Unemployment
There can be little doubt that
the shifting of the tax burden from
improvements to the land is the appropriate remedy. I shall try to
outline a few ground rules for the procedure which should be followed:
- The shifting of the tax burden should be achieved
a period of years.
- A predetermined yearly reduction in property tax rates on
improvements should be enacted by each State and should be imposed on
all local governments without exception. At the same time the tax rate
on urban land should be increased to make up for the loss in revenues.
- A State agency or State Tax commission should, be set up
supervise and administer the shifting of the tax burden with the
- To break up the property tax into its constituent parts:
urban improvements, urban land, farm land and property other than real
- To enforce the yearly reduction in tax rates on urban
improvements and to see to it that taxes on urban land are raised to
make up for the loss in revenues.
- To supervise assessment procedures and practices and
equal assessment of all classes of property.
- To enforce the pooling of revenue derived from school
to equalize school standards on a state-wide basis.
- To examine the merits and effects of the taxes assessed on
tangible and intangible property other than real estate and to
recommend the retention or discontinuation of these taxes.
- To consider the merits of granting immediate tax relief on
first $3,000 of all newly constructed housing in order to stimulate the
improvements and modernization of homes. Read
the whole article
Robert V. Andelson Henry
George and the Reconstruction of Capitalism
Nobody, to my knowledge,
advocates that it be instituted whole-hog
overnight. But it could be phased in in easy stages so as to obviate
the risk of shock and dislocation. And it is my considered opinion
that, by the time the system were in full effect, the revenues
produced by collecting land values alone would suffice to meet all
legitimate public needs. This may not have been true during the
Cold War, with its staggering burden of nuclear defense. But with
that burden lifted, and with the need for welfare of all kinds
evaporated because of the full employment and other social benefits
that the system would naturally engender, and for other reasons,
which time precludes my specifying here, I really think that we could
dispense with taxes on incomes, improvements, sales, imports, and all
the rest. If I am unduly optimistic in this belief, and the public
appropriation of land-values were insufficient, this would be no
argument against using it as far as it could go. Read
the whole article
Winston Churchill: The
system to be attacked, not individuals. I hope you will
understand that when I speak of the land monopolist I
am dealing more with the process than with the individual landowner. I
have no wish to hold any class up to public disapprobation. I do not
think that the man who makes money by unearned increment in land is
morally a worse man than anyone else who gathers his profit where he
finds it in this hard world under the law and according to common
usage. It is not the individual I attack, it is the system. It is not the man who is bad, it is the law
which is bad. It is not the man who is blameworthy for doing
what the law allows and what other men do; it is the State which would
be blameworthy were it not to endeavour to reform the law and correct
the practice. We do not want to
punish the landlord. We want to alter the law.
We do not go back on the
past. Look at our actual proposal. We do not go back on
the past. We accept
as our basis the value as it stands today. The tax on the increment of
land begins by recognizing and franking the past increment. We look
only to the future, and for the future we say only this, that the
community shall be the partner in any further increment above the
present value after all the owner's improvements have been deducted. We
say that the State and the municipality should jointly levy a toll upon
the future unearned increment of the land. The toll of what? Of the
whole? No. Of a half? No. Of a quarter! No. Of a fifth -- that is the proposal of
the Budget, and that is robbery, that is Plunder, that is communism and
spoliation, that is the social revolution at last, that is the overturn
of civilized society, that is the end of the world foretold in the
Apocalypse! Such is the increment tax about which so much chatter and
outcry are raised at the present time, and upon which I will say that
no more fair, considerate, or salutary proposal for taxation has ever
been made in the House of Commons. ... Read the whole piece
Nic Tideman: Being Just While Conceptions
of Justice are Changing: 7 Cases
A conception of justice is a framework for resolving questions of what liberties
people ought to have. The smooth functioning of society requires substantial
consensus about conceptions of justice, because without such consensus, people
will take actions and make claims on resources that others regard as intrusions
upon what is properly theirs. This can be expected to lead, at a minimum, to
disharmony and possibly to violent conflict. On the other hand, when people
agree on a conception of justice and who is competent to interpret it, conflicts
will be less likely to arise, and those that do arise can be settled more easily.
Thus there is strong impetus toward stability in any society's conception of
justice: Any doubts about a shared conception of justice may be suppressed
or hidden to
preserve the advantages of consensus.
Moral evolution, however, can require conceptions of justice to change, as
when the world came to recognize that slavery could not be just, or that women
must be accorded the same civil rights as men. When, as with the abolition
of slavery, a new conception of justice entails the elimination of the sale
value of what had previously been assets, there will be calls for compensation,
on the ground that, as provided in the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the
U.S. Constitution, governments should not take property without compensation.
Advocates of the new understanding, on the other hand, will argue against
compensation on the ground that citizens who knew better should not be obliged
to bail out those who had sought to enrich themselves through the perpetuation
of old injustices. When slavery was ended in the U.S., not only was there
no compensation for the previous "owners" of slaves, but the thirteenth amendment
to the U.S. Constitution explicitly forbade any state from paying compensation.
Why should the fifth and fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution require
compensation in general while the thirteenth amendment forbids it for losses
sustained from the end of slavery? Ackerman (1984) points out the importance
of the distinction between ordinary legislation, where it must be accepted
that self-interest will be rife, and constitutional law-making, where something
much closer to consensus is achieved. It was not inconsistent for the thirteenth
amendment to depart from the general principle that compensation must be
provided, because the constitutional process attenuated the self-interested
the requirement of compensation was designed to check. ... read the whole article