Land Value Taxation Campaign

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Labour’s confused land policies

E-mail Print PDF

”After urging land reform I now know the brute power of our billionaire press”, writes George Monbiot in the Guardian today about press response to the Labour’s proposals, set out in ”Land for the many”, which was published last month. The heavy criticism was well-deserved; there is an incoherent mish-mash of suggestions which reveals a lack of understanding of the fundamental moral and economic principles involved in land policy. The policy package was an inviting target for being shot down in flames.

Astonishingly – and I am in contact with some of the members of the Labour Land Campaign (LLC) – there was no consultation with those in the Campaign when the proposals were being put together. Whoever was responsible for the report had evidently not read and digested what was on the LLC’s excellent website.

The landowning interests will obviously squeal at whatever threatens their privileges, but the classic land reform proposals put forward by the Land Value Taxation Campaign, and by the Labour Land Campaign, are an intellectually defensible position in the way that the Labour Party’s latest proposals are not. They were evidently put together by a committee in which all the members had to get their favourite ideas in, regardless of whether they were based on sound ethical and economic principles, or not.

Monbiot attacks Farage and the Brexit party for standing in the way. He seems not to understand that EU trade and economic policy also works for the landowning interest. The CAP is an obvious example, but import tariffs and free movement of labour also drive up rents and drive down wages – a process which the landowning classes have always sought to do. Then there is VAT, a requirement of EU membership; it is not a coincidence that VAT is not charged on rents but on the products of labour; any Marxist - and there are plenty of them in the Labour Party - knows that it is labour alone which adds value.

 

Sugar tax

E-mail Print PDF

If a tax on sugar means the people eat less sugar, then a tax on wages must mean fewer jobs and a tax on goods and services, the purchase of fewer goods and services. Yet most public revenue is paid for by taxes on wages, goods and services.Then we are worried about joblessness and failure of the economy to grow.

In this way, most of the tax system is designed (not deliberately, one presumes) to damage the economy, yet politicians across the entire spectrum fail to acknowledge what should be obvious - that the tax system needs root and branch reform.
 

A Georgist EU?

E-mail Print PDF

What if the EU had been constructed on Georgist principles, with the following conditions for membership?

Read more...
 

Vacant buildings law collapses

E-mail Print PDF

Vacant buildings and sites used not to be subject rates, the UK national tax on business property. The Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 removed this exemption. We were sceptical about the legislation at the time and events have proved us right. Property owners have been trying to challenge the legislation and have now got their way. The owner of a building in Sunderland took the Valuation Office Agency to court. The case, Newbigin v Monk, went to the Court of Appeal in 2015 and then to the Supreme Court. The decision of this test case, announced on 1st March, was in favour of the owners.

Despite what the judges claim, we would argue that this pulls the rug from under the vacant rating legislation. It gives the green light to owners to leave buildings unoccupied and sites derelict, under the pretext that they are "under redevelopment". At first sight, one might expect that owners would be keen to avoid having sites vacant. Because of the way the land market and the banking system interact, however, it is often financially advantageous to hold premises and sites vacant, especially at the low points in the land price cycle; there are instances of sites which have been through two cycles whilst remaining vacant for the entire period, despite development consents. This promotes urban decay and ensures that economic recoveries will be retarded when the cycle begins to pick up.

The judges summarised the point at dispute as follows: "Does a commercial building which is in the course of redevelopment have to be valued for the purposes of rating as if it were still a useable office? That is the question raised in this appeal. An analogous question would arise if the building were a former hospital which was in the process of conversion into flats. Should it be valued as if it were still available for occupation as a hospital? The question is of general public importance to the law of rating and valuation."

The central issue in this appeal was whether the premises should be rated by having regard to the physical condition they were in on 6 January 2012 (the date of assessment) or whether para 2(1)(b) of Schedule 6 to the 1988 Act as amended by the Rating (Valuation) Act 1999 (“the 1999 Act”), requires a valuation officer to assume that "that immediately before the tenancy begins the hereditament is in a state of reasonable repair, but excluding from this assumption any repairs which a reasonable landlord would consider uneconomic. As the Act puts it: "Where the rateable value is determined with a view to making an alteration to a list which has been compiled (whether or not it is still in force) the matters mentioned (in sub-paragraph 7 below of the decision summary) shall be taken to be as they are assumed to be on the material day."

In making a judgement in favour of the landlord, the discussion specifically mentions the principle of rebus sic stantibus, referring to a series of cases as far back as Poplar Assessment Committee v Roberts [1922], and to the principles set out the Rating and Valuation Act 1925

The judges argue that their decision would not undermine the provisions of the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007, which increased the unoccupied business rate to make owners of unoccupied property liable for the same rate as those payable on occupied properties, since parliament had also introduced into the 1988 Act, in section 66A, an anti-avoidance power, which, to date, had not been used. The judges inferred that the practice before the Court of Appeal’s decision had not caused a serious problem and that the power could be exercised, if needed, for example to prevent avoidance by the partial implementation of a scheme of works and its deliberate non-completion.

In the light of the law as it is, this outcome was inevitable; the judges' decision was correct. It is what happens when valuations are based on anything other than site values only. Anti-avoidance powers just add another layer of uncertainty and provide endless scope for dispute; it remains to be seen whether they will ever be invoked.

The full details of the judgement are given here.

 

 

Fear of immigration

E-mail Print PDF

The fear of immigration is explained by Ricardo's Law of Rent, which nobody understands any more. Incomers create a land shortage which tends towards higher rents and drives down wages. This is not a problem if a system of land value taxation (LVT) is in place, because

  1. the rising rents become buoyant source of public revenue to pay for infrastructure and services
  2. the immigrants add to the stock of wealth being produced.
  3. land and premises are always available at competitive rents, so that there is never a shortage of work opportunities or places to live.

Otherwise, immigration becomes a source of conflict, as the newcomers are competing for homes and jobs.

Here is a video which explains Ricardo's Law of Rent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyv1xYDWAxk

The EU should have required both Freedom of Movement and LVT. The first without the second is a recipe for failure.

 
  • «
  •  Start 
  •  Prev 
  •  1 
  •  2 
  •  3 
  •  4 
  •  5 
  •  6 
  •  Next 
  •  End 
  • »
Page 1 of 6

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site

EU Cookie Directive Plugin Information