Friday, June 23, 2006

Soaring Property Taxes

Not a day goes by when I don’t read some news article about our soaring property taxes and very quickly a politician declaring that “something must be done” and let’s be clear before I say anything else, indeed something must be done.

Generally speaking, some of the current proposals revolve around shifting the property to either income taxes or sales taxes. Sometimes they do this through rebate programs like Star here in New York and sometimes it is a direct shift like that in Michigan and California. But, in both cases the money must come from one of those two sources. This includes cooperate income tax. Corporations pass any tax on to the consumers in the form of higher prices and/or lower wages.

However, what is really needed is to improve and expand the tax base. If I told you that you would be pay less in tax yearly and had more job opportunities from a simple shift in the property tax, would you be interested in learning more?

I am speaking of the Land Value Tax. This is a shift away from the buildings and improvements on the land and towards the land itself. Consider if you own a house. You decide you wish to paint your house, build a garage, or any other improvement, what is the immediate effect? Your property taxes go up because you have increased the value of the improvements on the land. This is backwards. Under the LVT you are free to improve your house, fields, whatever it is as much as you want and your taxes will not go up. This is the way things should be.

Walk around in your neighborhood, in the city, or even our in the country. Have you ever said to yourself, “wow, that would be a beautiful home if they only took care of it”. Under the current property tax regime, the people owning that home have an incentive to let I run down because their taxes go down as a result.

When the land is not taxed, this creates problems in society and our neighborhoods. Think about that same neighborhood from before, have you ever seen a parking lot or fenced off empty lot and think to yourself it doesn’t quite belong? Or a single family home in a dense urban area that probably shouldn’t be there anymore? Or an empty factory with weeds and trees springing up?

All of those are examples of when the tax on the land is either non-existent or very small. Speculators are free to sit on the land, benefiting from your hard work in making the neighborhood better, while contributing nothing themselves. In the mean time, your rents are higher and there are fewer jobs because this valuable piece of property is being withheld from production.

The answer to all of these problems, is a shift to the LVT and away from the capital on the land and eventually away from income and sales taxes also.

Is this fair? Yes! Ask yourself which you would rather own, a piece of land of equal size in downtown Manhattan or in the middle of Nebraska if it was given to you at no cost? Wealth is always concentrated in land more at greater rates then even income is distributed. Thus, a tax on land is even ore progressive then the graduated income tax.

Is it efficient? Yes! A tax on land can not check production and more importantly, it can not be passed on to the consumer, the wage earner, or to the business owner.

If you are interested in the LVT and would like to learn more click on any of the links on the right sidebar. You can also help me in any of my projects that I currently have going to raise awareness about the LVT.