To bring about Land Value Taxation

Julian Pratt

I believe that almost everybody is harmed by the inequalities in wealth that exist in all countries and across the world.  These inequalities are inevitable when one group of people own all the land and natural resources while the rest have to pay rent to them for a home and somewhere to work.  I believe that paying rent can be a fair way to allocate access to land, but that everybody (including landowners) should pay it and that the recipient of the rent should be the whole community, not individual owners.

We can rightly claim to own something that we have made, or something that we have acquired with the consent of its rightful previous owner. Nobody can claim to have made the land or other natural resources, so nobody has acquired a rightful claim to their unconditional ownership.  Most claims to land in the UK can be traced back no further than the Norman Conquest, that is to say that they stem from warfare and violence. Instead of owning land outright, we need a secure and exclusive use-right that permits responsible stewardship of the land – property rights that are conditional on paying a ground rent to the community.

This payment of ground rent is described by its advocates as Location Fees, Community Land Contributions or Stewardship Dues.  When imposed by the state it is described by orthodox economists as a Land Value Tax.

How this ground rent is to be used is a matter of debate.  One possibility is to distribute it as an equal per capita Universal (Basic) Income.  Another possibility is to use it as revenue for government.  A realistic option is probably some combination of the two.

I should like to see the gradual replacement of current taxes on income, jobs, production and value-added by Land Value Taxes. The barriers to the adoption of Land Value Taxation are not intellectual but political. Most people who know a fair amount about Land Value Taxation are in favour, but many politicians see it as a vote-loser. Working out the details of a fair transition from our current system of taxation requires careful thought, but the essential task is to ensure that many more people are aware of the problems of our current system of land ownership, have heard of Land Value Taxation and understand its benefits.

I have decided that it is time to go beyond talking about it and take one very small practical step to bring about the world that I would like to live in.  As a homeowner I have decided to pay at least a small proportion of the market rent of the land that I own to the community.

If other people choose to take the same action I hope it will embolden those politicians who can see the benefits of Land Value Taxation to make a start by reforming the National Non-Domestic (Business) Rates and Council Tax and replacing them by a Land Value Tax.’