Land Value Taxation Campaign

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Employers’ Burden - update 2019

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employersburden 2019

Our tax system is so misguided that it doubles the cost of employment and government spending, as the bar chart shows. The topmost bar is for those with a nominal salary of £10,000 per year; the division is into percentages. For each line of gross salary the length of the line is the total cost to the employer, including employers’ National Insurance contributions. The blue portion of each line is the amount received by the employee, minus indirect taxes, such as VAT; it represents real wages. The effects are capricious. Those with salaries of £25,000 are affected hard, as again are those with slaries of £50,000 and more. Top managers and executives are also a heavy cost to their employers.

Direct taxes are calculated from tax tables. Indirect taxes are taken from an ONS paper “The effects of taxes and benefits on household incomes 2016/17 table 16”. Some judgement has been used to match the two sets of figures. 

Here are some suggestions as to the possible real effects of this situation

  1. There is a sharp distinction of the view of wages from the points of view of employers and employees.
  2. There is constant impulse to replace people by machines.
  3. Unemployment is a constant factor in the economy.
  4. The effect of taxation at the margin is to kill off economic activity which might otherwise have been viable, leading to increases in tax so as to mitigate those effects. This maintains a vicious cycle.
  5. In the cycle of production, employment based taxation rolls up until it is paid by the final consumer. The consumers’ gross pay has to be has to be sufficient to pay the taxes and leave enough to live on.
  6. Government expenditure is mostly wages, and is thus doubled under the same rules.
  7. In order to cover the cost, an employee has to be able to add value to an amount twice what is needed to live on.
  8. Those who cannot meet this criteria will likely find their jobs at risk, if, indeed they can find any employment at all.

Although the UK is by no means the worst example (Sweden is probably at the bottom of the league) the disadvantages suffered in comparison to countries that do not tax wages so highly must be huge. It is, in fact, a 100% tax on wages!

This information was prepared by Tommas Graves and originally appeared in the Autumn 2019 edition of “Land and Liberty”


Daylight robbery

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Order your signed copy of Dominic Frisby’s book here.


Cracking down on low pay.

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A new report from the Resolution Foundation Companies says that employers who fail to pay the minimum wage should be punished more harshly in an effort to crack down on low pay. Oh dear.

Wages are the least that someone will accept to do a job. If the demand for labour is buoyant, then stingy employers will not attract and retain the workers they need. A lack of demand for labour cannot be legislated away. The authors of this report ought to know that.

It is also the case that employment will not occur if the value added by a worker is less than the GROSS LABOUR COST to the employer. The tax system is the villain. Gross Labour costs to employers are around 60% higher than real purchasing power of wages.


Business rates and their effects

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In view of the announcement of Business Rate reform in the Queen’s Speech, a potted summary of the imact of the tax on business property is presented here.

Business rates concessions are only of temporary help, and only to existing tenants. The value of the concession will be captured by the landlord at the next rent review, and new tenancies will be agreed at rents which reflect the value of the concession.In granting this concession, the government is giving up a stable and reliable source of revenue, with little benefit to the group of people it is intended to help.

The effects of the business rate and any other property taxes are best understood in the light of Ricardo’s Law of Rent.

  • Regardless of who is nominally responsible for payment, the incidence of the tax is ultimately on the owner of the land. However, this effect may be subject to a time lag. In the case of new lettings, the entire incidence of the property tax is on the landlord, as the rent that can be charged is directly affected by the amount of the tax payable by a tenant, whose concern is with total occupation costs.
  • In the case of existing tenants, there is a time lag. An increase in the property tax is borne by the tenant until the end of the lease or until rents are reviewed. Conversely, the benefit enjoyed by a tenant from a reduction in property tax is temporary and is clawed back by the landlord when the rent is reviewed or the lease renewed.
  • If the property tax exceeds the gross annual rental site value, the site cannot be put to sustainable economic use; ie it is sub-marginal.

The following implications arise from the above points.

  • Unless valuations are up to date, it is possible that if rental values are falling – for example, due to changed trading conditions. The tax can then tip land into sub-marginality.
  • Because valuations are based on land plus improvements, the tax payable may exceed the land value of the site. This situation can arise where sites of low land value are developed with valuable plant; examples are Nissan in Sunderland, chemical plant in locations such as Teeside and Runcorn, and steel manufacturers in Scunthorpe and South Wales. This damages the long term prospects of these locations as viable manufacturing sites.

REFERENCE The effect of the ten year ‘rates holiday’ in the Enterprise Zones established in 1981 is analysed in the report of this study commissioned by HM government after the conclusion of the scheme. This confirms the prediction of Ricardo’s Law, that the incidence of property taxes is on the landlord and that any concessions are captured through rent increases.


Flybe in trouble

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The UK regional airline Flybe is in financial difficulties and is asking for the government to reduce or scrap air passenger duty. Against them is the green lobby which is arguing that air travel should be reduced; we do not have a view on the latter. However, this highlights the need to review the way in which the aviation industry is taxed. Flight paths are ‘land’ and a public resource. They are managed by a private-public partnership company, National Air Traffic Control Services NTCS), which was set up to distance air traffic control from the Civil Aviation Authority (the CAA), which is responsible for overall regulation. Applying the principles on which land value taxation is based, we might say that air traffic should be limited by decisions about the number of flight paths that are permitted. These flight paths can then be allocated through the leasing by auction of landing and take-off slots. Under such a regime, the government would get rid of duties and surcharges, which are a complex and clumsy way of rationing air space which is, of its nature, limited. If the present duties and surcharges are phased out, the landing slots will be worth more and the government will get its revenue anyway.

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