The case for a land-value tax posted in the IEA website
‘Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.’ – Mark Twain
The UK economy is beset by three compounding problems: no growth, a high deficit and a constricting straightjacket of regulations. I posit that a reform to land-use planning, partnered with a land-value tax (LVT) substituted for business rates and council tax, offers a potential solution to all of these.
The unique merits of a land-value tax have pressed on the minds of economists for over 200 years. Economics has taught us how to analyse taxes against the criteria of efficiency, equity and revenue raising potential. The taxes most heavily applied in the UK today succumb to the theory of the second best: for example, income tax damages efficiency by perverting labour supply decisions; business rates distort firms’ input decisions, such that scarce resources are misallocated and final goods are not produced in the least-cost way. The key driver of inefficiency in both cases is the responsiveness of the payer, or the elasticity. High elasticities imply a greater distortion and greater efficiency loss.
In accordance with the sacrifice principle of Mill and others, an equitable tax system is one in which the utility burden is equalised across payers. By this criterion progressivity is desirable. Revenue raising potential is a function of the size of the tax base and the ability to avoid or evade. Link to full article
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