Sunday, 13 September 2009

Land Value Tax

I've been minded for ages now to give serious consideration to LVT, which seems to fit in well with the idea that some libertarians have that land is the one thing that you cannot create with the sweat of your brow, so you can never truly own it, so you should be able to tax its use for the benefit of society as a whole.

Mark Wadsworth has also argued very persuasively over the last few months, by demolishing arguments against LVT on an ongoing basis.

However, today he has also provided the single most influential reason for not going down the LVT path: Polly supports it. And as Mr E. says:

check which way she's facing, reader, and then bet the other way

19 comments:

James Higham said...

I read the first two lines and thought why bother - Wadsworth's got that one down pat and then I see you link him.

Ἕκτωρ said...

what does it mean to be British? Is it that your parents were British? That you were born here? That you own part of the country?

If everyone were to be given an equal part of the country then it would be fair to tax land but as it is the distribution is skewed so taxing land would impact disproportionately on those who have more land. Some people don't have any so would be happy in this situation - they don't get taxed but the rich do and they benefit from it. These are also likely to be those who have a long term interest in the good running of the country.

Land of itself surely has no value but that which the market will pay for it due to the use to which it can be put. Tax the income of the land by all means, but to tax a non-producing asset by its value as given by who could be extended to anything.

Land can be reclaimed from the sea by the sweat of your brow or there is the land created such as the palm fronds in Dubai. How would you tax that?

Mark Wadsworth said...

Polly is occasionally right, i.e. once or twice a year. She has also written, for example, that she thinks drugs should be legalised.

@ Ektwp, The "some people [who] don't have any land" are tenants., and they are paying rent = market value of the property they own. A large part of that rent relates to land value, ergo, everybody is already paying land value tax.

"Land can be reclaimed from the sea by the sweat of your brow..."

Notwithstanding that this is the sort of irrelevant factoid and completely artificial example that people make up to oppose LVT...

All land from the high tide line outwards belongs to the state. So nobody owns it at present, if you can strike a deal with the state to rent an area of sea bed which you will raise, then good luck to you. The rent you pay is the same things as Land Value Tax. The rent you would pay is no more than the rental value of the finished site minus the annual costs of shoring it up and maintaining the sea walls.

Anonymous said...

No matter what you do, if you add tax, it will be paid by everyone and not only 'da rich'.

The rents will rise, the goods sold/produced will be dearer etc.

The only thing that LVT will achieve is that the person who controls the land will end up paying it on paper of course, other than that, it's business as usual, if a little harder to get into as the bar to own property just got raised that little bit higher and everyone all round just got poorer in the process (other than the taxman and his army of useless eaters)

Mark Wadsworth said...

Anon: "No matter what you do, if you add tax, it will be paid by everyone and not only 'da rich'. The rents will rise, the goods sold/produced will be dearer etc."

Who said anything about 'da rich'? That is the whole point, most people already pay 'Land Value tax' only it is included in the rent you pay or your mortgage repayments (a mortgage being just renting money to buy the right to have a right to occupy land).

Rents will not rise, neither in theory nor in practice. Let's imagine that interest rates go up, so that some landlords are paying much more to the bank. Can they put up their rents as a result? Nope.

And if you are a potential FTB, do you care about interest rates? Not really, because if interest rates go up, then the purchase price goes down and what you end up paying is a pretty fixed share of your budget.

And the Tories experimented with Business Rates fee zones (Business Rates is pretty similar to Land Value Tax) and all that happened was that rents and property values went up to balance. Those areas did not see more economic activity or lower prices in the shops.

That is the whole point, taxes like VAT and Employer's NIC (and to a lesser extent income taxes and corporation taxes generally) push up prices and dampen the economy, but LVT doesn't.

hesspartacus said...

Wake up, Polly! Wake up, Polly Toynbee. I've got a nice cuttlefish for you if you wake up, Polly.

Polly...... Polly, Polly, Polly. Wake up, Polly!

Now, that's what I call a dead Spartist hackette!

If wishing made it so....

Nick said...

Obo and Polly sitting in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G
http://newslion.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

there is, of course, the fact that valuable land doesn't just appear by magic. take farmland - trees have to be felled, drainage has to be dug, fields tilled and tended, and so-on. certainly, land (as in dry bits of the planet) isn't created by man, but land as an acceptable, liveable environment is in fact produced by the sweat of someone's brow. as such, it falls under the definition of "property" because it is an artificial habitat (unless you want to live up a tree or in an unmodified cave.)

bayard said...

"taxes like VAT and Employer's NIC .."

Glad to see someone pointing out that so-called "employer's NIC" is really a tax on labour.

Anonymous said...

You really are an absolute CUNT!

Miller 2.0 said...

LVT is a tax that everyone agrees with apart from Richard Desmond.

What about the Liberatrian argument from enclosure (a la John Locke?).

"If everyone were to be given an equal part of the country then it would be fair to tax land but as it is the distribution is skewed so taxing land would impact disproportionately on those who have more land."

Eh? You could say the same thing about poll tax?

Tomrat said...

However, today he has also provided the single most influential reason for not going down the LVT path: Polly supports it.

This might be the only thing you can be sure of with the Pol; she supports it because she has found a way of avoiding it.

I like the concept of LVT; it makes double sense considering the historical pathways that dictated who got the land. It would also break up the insane stranglehold partly responsible for city overcrowding.

John Demetriou said...

Hector, what on earth are you on about?

I'd have thought a tax on land would be far preferable and more common sensical than taxes on income and wealth generation.

By the way Mr Clown, your new poll. It lacks a third option. One which would accurately reflect a certain type of 'short' article. On that perhaps isn't so 'punchy' and sweet.

You are actually quite malevolent aren't you?

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I trained with the best: I owe it all to pneawf.

Mitch said...

Think of the children! pleeeease think of the children.

Wibble.

Mark Wadsworth said...

@ Anon:

"there is, of course, the fact that valuable land doesn't just appear by magic. take farmland - trees have to be felled, drainage has to be dug, fields tilled and tended, and so-on."

Farmland is a red herring, it's worth about 1% as much as urban land and, if you strip out the value of 'improvements' (drainage etc) a tax on the pure location value would be no more than £10 or £20 per acre per annum.

"land as an acceptable, liveable environment is in fact produced by the sweat of someone's brow. As such, it falls under the definition of "property" because it is an artificial habitat"

You're talking about:

a) buildings (which aren't land, so would not be taxed under LVT) and

b) local infrastructure (railways, for example). Of course the railway is 'produced by the sweat of someone's brow' (and again, the owner of the railway wouldn't pay tax on the value of the rails or stations) but 99% of the increase in value from local infrastructure accrues to people who happen to own sites and buildings in the vicinity of railway stations.

Running a railway in itself is a mug's game, as somebody else (land-owners) make all the profits.

Ἕκτωρ said...

Should your land be taxed if it is not used for anything? If you have an empty house, should you be taxed the same amount as the house next door that has tenants?

Who is going to define how much a piece of land is worth and how will they do it? If it is being rented out then it should be easy, but if it is the Duke of Devonshire's front lawn, then how much is that worth? All it does is make his view nice. How much should it be taxed?

Yes, it would be like poll tax, but then at the same time why could we just introduce a law saying that you have to pay 10% of the value of all your possessions (why stop at land) per year as tax. Those few possessions would benefit greatly compared to those with few. And as it is only now being introduced, there would be a lot of people who would suddenly be losing out.

Mark Wadsworth said...

EKTWP: "Should your land be taxed if it is not used for anything? If you have an empty house, should you be taxed the same amount as the house next door that has tenants?"

Yes.

"Who is going to define how much a piece of land is worth and how will they do it?"

The markets define it. HM Land Registry record selling prices and already know plot sizes. Average out all sales over e.g. a postcode sector each year to arrive at a 'total built value' per square yard and minus off a reasonable approximation of build costs per square yard (let's say £300) and Bob's your uncle.

As a reality check, if an average 1930s built semi in Essex costs £250,000 and identical semis in Manchester cost £150,000, then the land value of the semi in Essex is £100,000-plus-£x and the land value of the semi in Manchester is £x.

"if it is the Duke of Devonshire's front lawn, then how much is that worth? All it does is make his view nice. How much should it be taxed?"

He haggles with the local council over the value. If they think he's set the price too low they offer to buy it off him for that amount.

Ἕκτωρ said...

This then forces people to use their land to the maximum economic benefit. It's like saying to children that they are clever so you're going to tax their intelligence, so forcing them to get a job in the future that pays well, rather than one that they might want.