Sunday, June 21, 2009
Land Value Tax, Let the Game Begin
Mark Wadsworth has turned his blog into a one-man platform in favour of a Land Value Tax to replace all other taxes, with the intention, I imagine, of making the world a better place. It's a regular hobby-horse of his, and he sells it well, though with a bit of handwaving here and there.
His latest series of long posts has been provoked by remarks made over at Samizdata (who are, incidentally, quite intelligent and genial chaps, as 'sinister and heavily-armed global illuminati' go) mainly by Ian B, who tried to point out why LVT was a bad idea. I got briefly involved in a similar argument a while back, before realizing I didn't know what I was talking about.
The obvious objections to LVT, which I made then, and which Ian B makes rather better, are that you have to find a large sum in cash every year and that the value put on your property is necessarily arbitrary, leaving it open to injustice and deliberate abuse, where councils order valuers to 'take'em heavy'. All of this is true of rates/council tax as well, of course, but we're talking here about much larger sums of money. These points are addressed at length by MW and dismissed, whether adequately or not I couldn't say, but he tries hard and seems to know what he's talking about.
One point I haven't seen mentioned (though it might be in there somewhere) is that an enormous amount of land and the properties built on it have been appropriated by one or other branch of government. In many towns it is quite staggering to see how many buildings and lots are council property. These would produce nothing, and so private owners would have to pay a lot more. It may not be an important point, it's just my attempt to contribute to the debate.
Anyway, if you have the slightest interest in tax reform get over there and have a read; it's very instructive.