ord sunshine pumpers

life in rural nebraska

The Single Tax?

with 4 comments

The Ideas Report at the Atlantic Monthly is currently engaged in an interesting set of exchanges on how to fix the world.  One of those ideas being kicked around is that of the Single Tax:  not a tax on single people, rather eliminating all taxes save property tax.  From the article:

George found it perverse that we tax productive activities like work and innovative investment while letting landowners grow rich simply because they scooped up property at the right time.

You can read more on the discussion here.  While interesting in proposition (I’d love to not pay income tax), the potential impact to the farming/ranching community would be significant and overwhelmingly negative.  More importantly, what constitutes “the most valuable use of that land“?  Who decides what’s valuable and what’s not?  The premise of Georgism, as its called, it to abolish the current concept of private land holding altogether.

What are your thoughts – is the Single Tax a good idea or not?


Written by Caleb

June 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Didn’t native americans believe that land was something that could not be owned? I did not really understand the single tax concept.


    June 30, 2009 at 5:01 am

  2. According to George’s theory, all taxes should be eliminated with exception to a flat tax on land value. His argument was that taxing income was penalizing productive work.

    My question was, what makes land “productive” or not?


    June 30, 2009 at 1:14 pm

  3. I kinda understand now. Value and producivity are in the eyes of the beholder. Some would place a value on empty space, others would say develop and make improvements.


    June 30, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  4. Land is productive when it is put to its highest and best use. For land well-served by complex infrastructure, that highest and best use is going to be something other than agriculture and single family homes.

    The beauty of land value taxation is that it nudges the private sector to put well-served land to good use, and leave the less-served land alone. It reduces, even reverses sprawl, promotes housing which is affordable for all of us at our various ages and stages; creates jobs; creates walkable cities; creates opportunities for entrepreneurs; reduces land speculation and speculation in other natural resources.

    It really is a smarter approach than what we rely on now to raise our revenue.

    It is also efficient and equitable. Seems to me that it meets most or all of the criteria for smart taxation.


    June 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm

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