Open Access Articles- Top Results for Land value tax

Land value tax

A land value tax (or site valuation tax) is a levy on the unimproved value of land only. It is an ad valorem on land that, unlike typical property taxes, disregards the value of buildings, personal property and other improvements.[1] Although the economic efficiency of a land value tax (LVT) has been established knowledge since Adam Smith,[2] it was perhaps most famously promoted by Henry George.

In his best selling work Progress and Poverty (1879), George argued that because the location value of land was provided by communities, the economic rent of land was the most logical source of public revenue.[3] A land value tax is said to be a progressive tax, in that the tax burden would fall on landlords and cannot be passed on as higher costs or lower wages to tenants, consumers, or laborers.[4][5] The philosophy that land rents extracted from nature should be captured by society and used to replace taxes is often now known as Georgism.

Land value taxation is currently implemented throughout Denmark,[6] Estonia, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. The tax has been applied in subregions of Australia (New South Wales), Mexico (Mexicali), and the United States (Pennsylvania). Land value taxation is known as site-value tax, LVT, split rate tax, and site-value rating.

Economic effects

The value of the land (and many other macro-economic quantities too) can be expressed using two independent concepts:

  • The value, or, strictly speaking, the price, of a particular site of land is what a fair exchange brings in terms of money during an agreed trade or transaction between two parties, one of whom is the landowner. (This definition is conditional on no LVT being applied, because when it does apply, the exchange value is affected.)
  • The land value of the site is also directly related to its demandable ground-rent, which is its potential for use in either production or residential capacities. The capitalization of this rent gives the land value too. Land which is not useful has no value and is called marginal land, as explained by British economist David Ricardo in 1816.


File:Perfectly inelastic supply.svg
A supply and demand diagram showing the effects of land value taxation. If the supply of land is fixed, the burden of the tax will fall entirely on the land owner, with zero or even negative deadweight loss.

Most taxes distort economic decisions and suppress beneficial economic activity.[7] LVT is payable regardless of whether or how well the land is actually used. Because the supply of land is inelastic, land rents depend on what tenants are prepared to pay, rather than on the expenses of landlords, and so LVT cannot be directly passed on to tenants.[8] The direct beneficiaries of incremental improvements to the surrounding neighborhood by others would be the land's occupants, and absentee landlords would benefit only by virtue of price competition amongst present and prospective tenants for those incremental benefits; the only direct effect of LVT on prices in this case is to lower the unearned increment (reduce the amount of the socially generated benefit that is privately captured as an increase in the market price of the land). Put another way, LVT is often said to be justified for economic reasons because if it is implemented properly, it will not deter production, distort market mechanisms or otherwise create deadweight loss. Land value tax can even have negative deadweight loss (social benefits) for societies, particularly when land use improves.[9] Nobel Prize-winning Canadian economist William Vickrey believed that "removing almost all business taxes, including property taxes on improvements, excepting only taxes reflecting the marginal social cost of public services rendered to specific activities, and replacing them with taxes on site values, would substantially improve the economic efficiency of the jurisdiction."[10] A correlation between the use of LVT at the expense of traditional property taxes and greater market efficiency is predicted by economic theory, and has been observed in practice.[11]

Proponents, such as American free-market economist Fred Foldvary, state that the necessity to pay the tax encourages landowners to develop vacant and underused land properly or to make way for others who will. They state that because LVT deters speculative land holding, dilapidated inner city areas are returned to productive use, reducing the pressure to build on undeveloped sites and so reducing urban sprawl.[12] For example, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the United States has taxed land at a rate six times that on improvements since 1975, and this policy has been credited by its long-time mayor Stephen R. Reed with reducing the number of vacant structures in downtown Harrisburg from around 4,200 in 1982 to fewer than 500. LVT is an ecotax because it ostensibly discourages the waste of locations, which are a finite natural resource.[13][14][15]

LVT is an efficient tax to collect due to its immobility. Unlike labour and capital, land cannot move to escape tax.[16]

Many urban planners claim that a land value tax is an effective method to promote transit-oriented development.[17][18]

Real estate values

Real estate bubbles direct savings towards rent seeking activities rather than other investments, and can contribute to recessions which damage the entire economy. Advocates of the land tax claim that it reduces the speculative element in land pricing, thereby leaving more money for productive capital investment and making the economy more stable.[19]

If the value to landowners were reduced to zero or near zero by recovering effectively all its rent, total privately held asset values could decline as the land value element was stripped out, representing a shift in apparent private sector wealth. Since landowners often possess significant political influence, this has significantly deterred the adoption of land value taxes.[20]

Practical issues

There are several practical issues involved in the implementation of a land value tax. Most notably, it needs to be:

  • Calculated fairly and accurately,
  • High enough to raise sufficient revenue without causing land abandonment, and
  • Billed to the correct person or business entity.


In theory, levying a land value tax is straightforward, requiring only a valuation of the land and a register of the identities of the landholders. There is no need for the tax payers to deal with complicated forms or to give up personal information as with an income tax. Because land cannot be hidden, removed to a tax haven or concealed in an electronic data system,[21] the tax cannot be evaded.

However, critics point out that determining the value of land can be difficult in practice. In a 1796 United States Supreme Court opinion, Justice William Paterson noted that leaving the valuation process up to assessors would cause numerous bureaucratic complexities, as well as non-uniform assessments due to imperfect policies and their interpretations.[22] Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard later raised similar concerns, stating that no government can fairly assess value, which can only be determined by a free market.[23]

However, firstly, as Steven Spadijer has pointed out, the free market is already determining the taxable value of the land. For example, valuators in the home-and-contents insurance industry are already performing such a function on a daily basis when, in order to calculate an insurance premium, the valuator must separate the value of the home from the indestructible value of the land beneath the home itself. Thus, land value for LVT purposes is assessed using market evidence. Such evidence may comprise both selling prices and rentals. Where development already exists on a site, the value of the site can be discovered by various means, of which the most easily understood is the residual method: the value of the site is the total value of the property minus the depreciated value of buildings and other structures. This may explain why the system involves little fuss and relative ease in the places where it has been implemented. Secondly, when compared to modern day property tax evaluations, valuations of land involve fewer variables and have smoother gradients than valuations that include improvements. This is due to variation of building style, quality and size between lots. Modern computerization and statistical techniques have eased the process; in the 1960s and 1970s, multivariate analysis was introduced as a method of assessing land.[24]

Usually, the valuation process commences with a measurement of the most and least valuable land within the taxation area. A few sites of intermediate value are then identified and used as "landmark" values. Other values are filled in between the landmark values. The data is then collated on a database and linked to a unique property reference number,[25] "smoothed" and mapped using a geographic information system (GIS). Thus, even if the initial valuation is difficult, once the system is in use, successive valuations become easier.

Limited revenue

File:Maximum taxation with perfectly inelastic supply.svg
In this case, land is taxed at 100% of its rental value, eliminating the landowner surplus completely. Land tax revenues cannot be raised beyond this point.

In the context of land value taxation as a single tax (replacing all other taxes), some have argued that LVT alone cannot raise large enough revenues.[26] However, this is to ignore the fact that other taxes have the effect of reducing land values and hence the amount of revenue that can be raised from them. The Physiocrats argued that all taxes are ultimately at the expense of land rental values. Most modern LVT systems are alongside other taxes, and thus only reduce their impact without removing them completely. In a case or event where a jurisdiction attempted to levy a land tax that was higher than the entire landowner surplus, it would result in landowner abandonment and a sharp decline in tax revenue.[27]

Requires clear ownership

In some countries, LVT is nearly impossible to implement because of lack of certainty regarding land titles and clearly established land ownership and tenure. For instance a parcel of grazing land may be communally owned by the inhabitants of a nearby village and administered by the village elders. In these situations, the land in question would need to be vested in a trust or similar body for taxation purposes. If the government cannot accurately define ownership boundaries and ascertain the proper owners, it cannot know from whom to collect the tax. The phenomenon of lack of clear titles is found worldwide in developing countries[28] and is in part the subject of the work of the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto. In African countries with imperfect land registration, boundaries may be poorly surveyed, the landlord can be elusive. Proponents of LVT argue that elusive landlords can be made to identify themselves under penalty of losing the land to the current users.[29]


As a model of how Land Value Taxation affects incentives, take for example a vacant lot in the center of a vibrant and growing city. Any landowner that must pay a tax for such a lot will perceive holding it vacant as a financial liability instead of an investment that passively rises in value.

The selling price of anything that is fixed in supply will not increase if it is taxed. Since the supply of land is fixed, a land value tax is paid entirely by landlords and a land value tax does not directly increase the purchasing rent of land.[30] Tax incidence rests completely upon landlords, although business sectors that provide financial services to landlords would be indirectly impacted. In some economies, 80 percent of banking activity finances real estate, a large portion of that being for land, which banks would no longer be able to finance with land value tax.[31] Landlords cannot directly charge higher rent for land as a result of LVT, but if other taxes are removed simultaneously and land use improves, nominal rents may shift to reflect higher incomes and productivity.[32][33]

Buyers will not pay for the anticipated appreciation of land since such appreciation is taxed away. From the seller's perspective, land value tax removes financial incentives to hold land for price appreciation. Thus, Land Value Taxation gives buyers of unused/underused parcels in central locations increased leverage over sellers who are not using them productively. This causes more land become available to people who desire to use land, as opposed to holding locations for speculative purposes.

This creates an impetus to either use a site, for apartments, store front, or office space, for example, or to sell the site to someone who will. The land value tax is assessed based on the value of surface area in locations, which is especially high in cities. Under-use of land, in the form of vacant, run-down, and undersized buildings, and of vacant lots and parking lots are common in cities. Generally these sites would be converted to more intensive uses, subject to planning restrictions, with a land value tax.

Such incentives result in an increase in the supply of space for living, working, recreation, etc. Assuming constant demand, an increase in supply of constructed space, i.e. substitutes for land, decrease the rent paid for such space. This is especially relevant since land value taxes are often used to replace taxes on buildings, among other taxes. Of course, taxes on buildings restrict the supply of building space. A revenue neutral shift from buildings to land increases the supply of building space more than a land value tax alone. This infill of underutilized urban space effectively combats sprawl, allowing people to live closer to the city center for the same cost. This beneficial attribute of a recurring ad valorem tax on land is why land value tax is predicted to actually reduce rents.

A land value tax would be less vulnerable to tax evasion, since land titles are registered with the public, titles are easy to identify and tax.[34] Landlords cannot take land with them overseas when the values are taxed. Land value assessments are also usually considered public information, unlike taxes on incomes and sales. GIS maps provide a means for neighbors and oversight organizations to easily compare land rent assessments. Such transparency could reduce landowners' ability to evade the tax.[35]


See also: Georgism

Land acquires a scarcity value owing to the competing needs of the community for living, working and leisure space. The value of land generally owes nothing to the individual efforts of the landowner and everything to the community at large. Supporters suggest that the value of land belongs justly and uniquely to the community.[36]

In religious terms, it has been claimed that land is a common gift to all of mankind.[37] For example, the Roman Catholic Church as part of its Universal destination of goods principle asserts:

Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: "You are not making a gift of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich."[38]

In addition, the Church maintains that political authority has the right and duty to regulate, including the right to tax, the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.[39]


A land value tax takes into account the effect on land value of location, or of improvements made to neighbouring land, such as proximity to roads, public works or a shopping complex. LVT is said to act as value capture tax.[40] A new public works project may make adjacent land go up considerably in value, and thus, with a tax on land values, the tax on adjacent land goes up. Thus, the new public improvements would be paid for by those most benefited by the new public improvements — those whose land value went up most.[41] Thus, a land value tax would tax socially created wealth, allowing a reduction in tax on privately created wealth.[42]

Additionally, a land value tax is also a progressive tax,[5][43] in that the tax burden is entirely based on land ownership, which is highly correlated to incomes,[44] and there is no means by which landlords can shift the tax burden onto tenants or laborers. Thus it would be paid for by those with a higher ability to pay, and reduce the tax burden of lower income families. Land value capture would reduce economic inequality, increase wages, remove incentives to misuse real estate, and reduce the vulnerability that economies face from credit and property bubbles.[45]



Land value taxation has ancient roots, tracing back to after the introduction of agriculture. One of the oldest forms of taxation, it was originally based on crop yield. This early version of the tax required simply sharing the yield at the time of the harvest, akin to paying a yearly rent.[46]

Thousands of years before Henry George and the French Physiocrats, the Aryan sages of ancient India described the issue of land rent and a very similar solution. "The earth common to all beings enjoying the fruit of their own labour; it all alike"; therefore, "there should be left some for everyone". Apastamba said "If any person holding land does not exert himself and hence bears no produce, he shall, if rich, be made to pay what ought to have been produced".[47]

During the Middle-Ages, in the west, the first regular and permanent land tax system was based on a unit of land known as the hide. The hide was originally an amount of land sufficient to support a household, but later became subject to a land tax known as "geld".[48]

Ancient China

Mencius[49] was a Chinese philosopher (around 300 BCE) who advocated for the elimination of taxes and tariffs, to be replaced by the public collection of urban land rent: "In the market-places, charge land-rent, but don't tax the goods."[50]


The physiocrats were a group of economists who believed that the wealth of nations was derived solely from the value of land agriculture or land development. Physiocracy is considered one of the "early modern" schools of economics. Physiocrats called for the abolition of all existing taxes, completely free trade, and a single tax on land;[51] they did not distinguish, however, between intrinsic value of land and ground rent.[52] Their theories originated in France and were most popular during the second half of the 18th century. The movement was particularly dominated by Anne Robert Jacques Turgot (1727–1781) and François Quesnay (1694–1774).[53] It immediately preceded the first modern school, classical economics, which began with the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations in 1776. It influenced contemporary statesmen, such as Charles Alexandre de Calonne. The Physiocrats were also highly influential in the early history of land value taxation in the United States.

Radical movement

Thomas Paine contended in his Agrarian Justice pamphlet that all citizens should be paid 15 pounds at age 21 "as a compensation in part for the loss of his or her natural inheritance by the introduction of the system of landed property." "Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."[54] This proposal was the origin of the citizen's dividend advocated by Geolibertarianism. Thomas Spence advocated a similar proposal except that the land rent would be distributed equally each year regardless of age.[55]

Classical economists

It was Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations, who first rigorously analyzed the effects of a land value tax, pointing out how it would not hurt economic activity, and how it would not raise land rents.

Ground-rents are a still more proper subject of taxation than the rent of houses. A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rents of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist, and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of his ground. More or less can be got for it according as the competitors happen to be richer or poorer, or can afford to gratify their fancy for a particular spot of ground at a greater or smaller expense. In every country the greatest number of rich competitors is in the capital, and it is there accordingly that the highest ground-rents are always to be found. As the wealth of those competitors would in no respect be increased by a tax upon ground-rents, they would not probably be disposed to pay more for the use of the ground. Whether the tax was to be advanced by the inhabitant, or by the owner of the ground, would be of little importance. The more the inhabitant was obliged to pay for the tax, the less he would incline to pay for the ground; so that the final payment of the tax would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent.

— Adam Smith , The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 2, Article I: Taxes upon the Rent of Houses


Main article: Georgism

Henry George (2 September 1839 – 29 October 1897) was perhaps the most famous advocate of recovering land rents for public purposes. An American journalist, politician and political economist, he advocated a "Single Tax" on land that would eliminate the need for all other taxes. In 1879 he authored Progress and Poverty, which significantly influenced land taxation in the United States and many other countries, including Denmark, which still has the 'grundskyld' (Ground Duty) as a key component of the tax system.[56]

Meiji Restoration in Japan

After the 1868 Meiji Restoration in Japan, Land Tax Reform was undertaken. A land value tax was implemented beginning in 1873. By 1880 initial problems with valuation and rural opposition had been overcome and rapid industrialisation was underway.

Liberal and Labour Parties in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, LVT was an important part of the platform of the Liberal Party during the early part of the twentieth century: David Lloyd George and H. H. Asquith proposed "to free the land that from this very hour is shackled with the chains of feudalism."[57] It was also advocated by Winston Churchill early in his career.[58] The modern Liberal Party (not to be confused with the Liberal Democrats, which are the larger heir to the earlier Liberal Party but who also have some support for the idea[59]) remains committed to a local form of land value taxation,[60] as do the Green Party of England and Wales[61] and the Scottish Green Party.[62]

The 1931 Labour budget included a land value tax, but before it came into force it was repealed by the Conservative-dominated National Government that followed shortly after.[63]

An attempt at introducing site value taxation in the administrative County of London was made by the local authority under the leadership of Herbert Morrison in the 1938–9 Parliament, called the London Rating (Site Values) Bill. Although it failed, it sets out detailed legislation for the implementation of a system of land value taxation using annual value assessment.[64]

After 1945, the Labour Party adopted the policy, against the opposition of a substantial body of MPs, of attempting to collect "development value": the increase in land price arising from planning consent. This was one of the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and it was repealed when the Labour government lost power in 1951.


In Principles (1890), Alfred Marshall argued in favour of a "fresh air rate", a tax to be charged to urban landowners and ‘‘levied on that special value of urban land which is caused by the concentration of population’’ (1961, vol. 1, p. 718n.). That ‘‘general rate’’ should have ‘‘to be spent on breaking out small green spots in the midst of dense industrial districts, and on the preservation of large green areas between different towns and between different suburbs which are tending to coalesce’’. This idea influenced Marshall's pupil Arthur Pigou's ideas on taxing negative externalities.

Paul Samuelson strongly supported a land value tax. "Our ideal society finds it essential to put a rent on land as a way of maximizing the total consumption available to the society. ...Pure land rent is in the nature of a 'surplus' which can be taxed heavily without distorting production incentives or efficiency. A land value tax can be called 'the useful tax on measured land surplus'."

Milton Friedman stated: "There's a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise – and yet we need taxes. ...So the question is, which are the least bad taxes? In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago."

Michael Hudson is a vocal proponent for taxing rent, especially land rent.".... politically, taxing economic rent has become the bête noir of neoliberal globalism. It is what property owners and rentiers fear most of all, as land, subsoil resources and natural monopolies far exceed industrial capital in magnitude. What appears in the statistics at first glance as "profit" turns out upon examination to be Ricardian or "economic" rent."

Paul Krugman agrees that a land value tax is efficient, however he disputes whether it should be considered a single tax, as he believes it would not be enough alone, excluding taxes on natural resource rents and other Georgistesque taxes, to fund a welfare state. "Believe it or not, urban economics models actually do suggest that Georgist taxation would be the right approach at least to finance city growth. But I would just say: I don’t think you can raise nearly enough money to run a modern welfare state by taxing land [only]."

The Nobelist Joseph Stiglitz writes "Not only was Henry George correct that a tax on land is non-distortionary, but in an equilibrium society ... tax on land raises just enough revenue to finance the (optimally chosen) level of government expenditure."


Land value taxes were common in Western Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. In Vancouver LVT became the sole form of municipal taxation in 1910 under the leadership of mayor, Louis D. Taylor.[65] Gary B. Nixon (2000) states that the rate never exceeded 2% of land value, too low to prevent the speculation which led directly to the massive 1913 real estate crash.[66] All Canadian provinces now have moved back to taxing improvements.

Existing tax systems

A comprehensive and detailed survey of land value taxation around the world was published in 2001.[67]


The Henry Tax Review recommended that state governments replace stamp duty on the sale of land with a Land Value Tax on all land, without exemption for a person's principal place of residence or farmland. The review did propose though, in recommendations 52 and 53 that the tax have a number of marginal rates and thus most agricultural land would be in the lowest band with a rate of zero. Only the Australian Capital Territory has moved to adopt this system and is reducing stamp duty by five percent for each of the next twenty years and raising land tax by five percent each year.

The state of New South Wales levies a state land value tax. However, unlike council rates, farmland and a person's principal place of residence are generally exempt and the state tax is only levied on value over a certain threshold. In New South Wales determination of land value, for tax purposes at a state and local level, is the responsibility of the Valuer-General.[68] The cities of Sydney, Canberra, and others in Australia use LVT. An in-depth study under the Chairmanship of Sir Gordon Chalk issued a report[69] in 1986 on the subject of local taxation for the city of Brisbane, Queensland. The report, which examined many alternative means of local finance, sets out comprehensive and concise arguments for LVT.

By revenue, property taxes represent 4.5% of total taxation in Australia.[70]

United States

Common property taxes include land value, which is usually assessed separately. Thus, land value taxation already exists in many jurisdictions. Some jurisdictions have attempted to rely more heavily on the taxation of land value taxes. This is true particularly in the state of Pennsylvania, where certain cities have raised the tax on land value while reducing the tax on improvement/building/structure values. For example, the city of Altoona adopted a property tax that solely taxes land value in 2002.

In the late 19th century followers of Henry George founded a single tax colony at Fairhope, Alabama. Although the colony, now a nonprofit corporation, still holds land in the area and collects a relatively small ground rent, the land is still subject to all other state and local taxes.[71]

Hong Kong

Government rent in Hong Kong, formerly the crown rent, is levied in addition to Rates. For properties which are located in the New Territories (including New Kowloon), or located in the rest of the territory and of which the land grant take place after 27 May 1985, the government rent is levied at 3% of the rateable rental value.[72][73]

Other countries

Pure LVT, apart from real estate or generic property taxation, is used in Taiwan, Singapore, and Estonia.[74]

Several cities around the world also use LVT (e.g. see Australia, above). It has also been used in Mexicali, Mexico.[75]

Countries with active discussion


China's Real Rights Law contains fundamental provisions founded on a land value taxation analysis.[76]


In 2010 the then government of Ireland announced that it would introduce an LVT, beginning in 2013.[77] However following a change in government in 2011, a property value tax was introduced instead (see Local property tax (Ireland)).


Kenya has a history of land value Land value taxation that dates back to at least 1972, shortly after it achieved independence. Local governments must tax land value, but are required to seek approval from the central government for rates that exceed 4 percent. Buildings were not taxed at all in Kenya, as of the year 2000. The central government is also legally required to make payments to local municipalities for the value of land it occupies. Perhaps as a result of this land reform, Kenya has emerged as the only stable country in its region.[78] As of late 2014, the city of Nairobi was still taxing only land values, but there was also a proposal to add a tax on improvements.[79]


A land value taxation on rural land has been introduced in Namibia, with the primary intention of improving the efficiency of land use.[80]

United Kingdom

The Labour Land Campaign campaigns within the Labour party and the broader Labour movement for "a more equitable distribution of the Land Values that are created by the whole community" through an annual tax on land values. Its membership includes members of the British Labour Party, Trade Unions and Cooperatives as well as individuals.[81] The Liberal Democrats' ALTER (Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform) aims

to improve the understanding of and support for Land Value Taxation amongst members of the Liberal Democrats; to encourage all Liberal Democrats to promote and campaign for this policy as part of a more sustainable and just resource based economic system in which no one is enslaved by poverty; and to cooperate with other bodies, both inside and outside the Liberal Democrat Party, who share these objectives.[82]

The Green Party "favour moving to a system of Land Value Tax, where the level of taxation depends on the rental value of the land concerned." [83]

Courses in "Economics with Justice"[84] with a strong foundation in LVT are offered at the School of Economic Science, which has historical links with the Henry George Foundation.[85]


Since the turn of the new century, with devolution and the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament, there has been interest and political pressure in Scotland to introduce land value taxation.

In February 1998 the pre-devolution UK government in Scotland (the Scottish Office) launched a far-reaching public consultation process on the broad question of land reform.[86] A survey of the record of the public response found that: "excluding the responses of the lairds and their agents, reckoned as likely prejudiced against the measure, 20% of all responses favoured the land tax" (12% in grand total, without the exclusions).[87] The government responded by announcing "a comprehensive economic evaluation of the possible impact of moving to a land value taxation basis".[88] However, in a welter of published Land Reform Action Plans, concrete, positive public outcomes failed to materialise.[89]

In 2000 the Parliament’s Local Government Committee[90] held an inquiry into local government finance. Its terms of reference explicitly included land value taxation[91] but the Committee’s final report did not comment on the system.[92]

In 2003 the Scottish Parliament passed a resolution: "That the Parliament notes recent studies by the Scottish Executive and is interested in building on them by considering and investigating the contribution that land value taxation could make to the cultural, economic, environmental and democratic renaissance of Scotland."[93]

In 2004 a letter of support was sent from a group of members of the Scottish Parliament to the organisers and delegates of the IU’s 24th international conference being held in Madrid—signed by members of the Scottish Green, Socialist and Nationalist parties.[94]

The policy was considered in 2006 by banker Sir Peter Burt’s government-appointed Scottish Local Government Finance Review. The Review’s 2007 Report[95] concludes that "although land value taxation meets a number of our criteria, we question whether the public would accept the upheaval involved in radical reform of this nature, unless they could clearly understand the nature of the change and the benefits involved.... We considered at length the many positive features of a land value tax which are consistent with our recommended local property tax [LPT], particularly its progressive nature." However, "[h]aving considered both rateable value and land value as the basis for taxation, we concur with Layfield [UK Committee of Inquiry, 1976)] who recommended that any local property tax should be based on capital values."[96]

In 2009, Glasgow City Council resolved that it wished to introduce a tax based on land values: "the idea could become the blueprint for Scotland’s future local taxation"[97] The Council has agreed[98] a "long term move to a local property tax / land value tax hybrid tax": its Local Taxation Working Group also states that simple [non-hybrid] land value taxation should itself "not be discounted as an option for local taxation reform: it potentially holds many benefits and addresses many existing concerns".[99]

Policy interest elsewhere

In Zimbabwe, government coalition partners the Movement for Democratic Change has land value taxation as its policy.[100] Since 2000, there have been political expressions of interest in the policy and analysis in Belgium,[101] Ethiopia,[102] Republic of South Africa[102] and other countries. The governments of Thailand[103] and Hungary[104] have shown some sympathy with the policy.

There are local campaigns to introduce it in many other countries, including South Korea and the United Kingdom (where a broad assembly of independent and politically aligned groups[105] advocate and advance the case for land value taxation).[106] The IU works internationally and at the United Nations in support of the policy. In 1990, several economists wrote[107] to then President Mikhail Gorbachev suggesting that Russia use Land Value Taxation in its transition towards a free market economy: its failure to do so has been argued as causal in the rise of the Oligarchs.[108]

Tax rates

EU countries

Country Average rate Lowest rate Highest rate Year Name Description
23x15px Denmark 2.627%[109] 1.6%[109] 3.4%[109] 2013 grundskyldspromille / ejendomsskat The municipality (kommune) decides the local tax rate within 1.6 and 3.4 percent[110]

See also



  1. ^ Webb, Merryn (27 September 2013). "How a levy based on location values could be the perfect tax". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Smith, Adam (1776). The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 2, Article I: Taxes upon the Rent of Houses. Ground-rents are a still more proper subject of taxation than the rent of houses. A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rents of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist, and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of his ground. 
  3. ^ George, Henry (1879). Progress and Poverty.  The often cited passage is titled "The unbound Savannah."
  4. ^ Possible reforms of real estate taxation : criteria for successful policies. Brussels: European Commission, Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs. 2012. ISBN 978-92-79-22920-6. 
  5. ^ a b Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P; Bourguignon, Camille; Brink, Rogier van den (2009). Agricultural Land Redistribution : Toward Greater Consensus. World Bank. A land tax is considered a progressive tax in that wealthy landowners normally should be paying relatively more than poorer landowners and tenants. Conversely, a tax on buildings can be said to be regressive, falling heavily on tenants who generally are poorer than the landlords 
  6. ^ Land Valuation in Denmark (1903-1945) by K.J. Kristensen
  7. ^ Coughlin (1999) p.263-4
  8. ^ Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations Book V, Chapter 2, Part 2, Article I: Taxes upon the Rent of Houses
  9. ^ McCluskey, William J.; Franzsen, Riël C. D. (2005). Land Value Taxation: An Applied Analysis. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 4. ISBN 0-7546-1490-5. 
  10. ^ Vickrey, William. "The Corporate Income Tax in the U.S. Tax System, 73 TAX NOTES 597, 603(1996)
  11. ^ Smith, Jeffery J. (2001). "Property Tax Shift Successes". The Progress Report. Retrieved 13 June 2008. 
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  • Coughlan, J. Anthony. "Land Value Taxation and Constitutional Uniformity", Geo. Mason L. Rev., Winter 1999, Vol. 7, No. 2

External sources

Further reading

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