IN THE NEWS
The town of Altoona began trying out the land value tax in 2002 on the recommendation of the Center for the Study of Economics. From 2011, land value tax completely replaced taxes on buildings.
Nevertheless, five years later, land value tax advocates don’t have clear examples to point to of projects or investments in the city that would have been made without the tax system in place, and the reform has been undone.
The incentive created by the city’s land value tax was limited because the county and the school district imposed property taxes. Another major problem was that the tax system was so unusual that potential residents and businesses struggled to understand the potential benefits of moving to or investing in the city.
In some cases, businesses might have been turned off by the relatively high rate of tax on land, not understanding that there was no rate of tax on structures.
The UK’s biggest house building firms are sitting on 600,000 plots of land that have planning consents – four times the number of new builds in the UK last year.
Land is often bought and sold many times over before construction goes ahead, and many owners have no intention of every building. The result is speculation and very expensive housing.
The average price of agricultural land in England is £21,000 per hectare, whereas land that has residential building consent is valued at close to £6 million per hectare.
The Modi government is introducing measures to encourage first-time home buyers, introducing tax incentives for self-occupied properties and rentals.
In the past, these tax incentives were capped for owner-occupied houses but not for rentals. Therefore, a landlord could book the loss they suffered on lower rent, which helped in reducing their overall taxable income.
It is expected that this will bring new real estate to the market in turn bringing the prices down, which have already fallen by 30 percent after the demonetisation.
With the release of the London Finance Commission report, Assembly Member Tom Copley called for a Land Value Tax to replace the three basic property taxes: council tax, business rates and stamp duty land tax.
Copley said a Land Value Tax would discourage land banking, where developers sit on land waiting for its value to rise without building on it. This would incentivize the building of news homes quickly while raising much needed funds for investment.
Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away 640 million acres of national land to state governments. Critics fear this could eliminate mixed-use requirements, limit public access and turn over large portions for energy or property development.
The oil-rich Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could soon be up for sale. States with small budgets may be unable to invest in the management of these lands and decide to sell them off.
Areas at stake are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, and contribute to more than $600 billion each year in economic stimulus from recreation and 6.1m jobs.
A home for sale last year in San Francisco’s Sunset District came perilously close to redefining the very concept of a “fixer-upper.”
The place was not inhabitable in any way, and yet it sold for just under $1 million last February after just a short time on the market. In space-strapped San Francisco, the real value of real estate lies in the land.
Calculated based on a total land value in England of £1.842 trillion, residential properties would pay 79.5 percent of the tax, businesses 15.5 percent and agriculture 4.8 percent. Current Council Tax is unfairly distributed because it uses property bands.
On this basis, the top 1% of property wealth owners would be liable for 54% of the residential part of the tax assuming the tax is introduced at a flat rate for all. Land Value Tax, unlike Council Tax, is not a residency tax it is an ownership tax, so people in rented accommodation do not pay the tax.
Infrastructure Australia recommends that governments gradually get rid of stamp duties and tax land values over the long term, arguing it is the “fairest” way of raising money for new infrastructure.
A new train line that makes it faster for people to get to work will typically attract people to buy houses nearby, increasing land values. IA’s report said “there are serious challenges for any form of value capture based on property prices rather than underlying land values.”
Instead of looking at homes as investments, what if we regarded them like a TV or a car or any other consumer good? They would be somewhat cheaper in most places, where population is growing slowly. But they would be profoundly cheaper in places like San Francisco. That was the conclusion of a recent paper by the economists Ed Glaeser of Harvard and Joe Gyourko at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
The paper used construction industry data to determine how much a house should cost to build if land use regulation were drastically cut back. Since the cost of erecting a home varies little from state to state — land is the main variable in housing costs — their measure is the closest thing we have to a national home price.