Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thinking About Land Tax

Don't worry. I find tax boring and inscrutable as well. The arrival of any correspondence from Her Majesty's Inland Revenue inevitably causes me to want to throw myself under a train at the prospect of (a) having to fill in yet another tax form or (b) having to phone up my local office (located in Scotland for some reason) and explain for the 400th time why I do not in fact owe them any money, despite regular letters to the contrary.

Tax doesn't have to be taxing? Phaw!

Against that backdrop, I have found myself rather surprisingly drawn in recent weeks to the issue of Land Value Taxation, an idea espoused by (among others) the imaginatively named Land Value Taxation Campaign. The basic idea is that taxation should be levied annually on the rental value of land, replacing existing taxes on income and business.

I first stumbled upon the idea when a friend sent a link to a podcast by the "Renegade Economist" Fred Harrison, who in 1983 predicted the 1992 slump and who in 1997 predicted that the property price high point would be 2007 and would collapse in 2008 followed by recession in 2009/10.

My interest then took me to related sites, notably The Distributist Review and the Mutualist, the latter describing itself as espousing "free market anti-capitalism".

After that, I came across a piece by a former Sussex University friend Edward Rhodes on the pamphleteer Thomas Spence (1750-1814) who, along with his calls for universal adult suffrage (including voting rights for women) was an advocate of a system of taxation based on the value of land linked to the corresponding abolition of taxation on income and trade.

Time and inclination permitting, I may explore the theme in future posts. For now, I commend the links if interested in exploring the idea further.

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