Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Hotel Taxes

Hotel taxes are a puzzlement to me.  They require people who spend little time in a place to finance the infrastructure and services which make land in that place valuable so that next year the hotel can charge them more without providing any more amenities!  Tourists and business travelers, of course, don't get to vote on these taxes.  They only get to vote with their choice of where they will travel.

Land value taxation would be a far better choice for financing local services.

Hotels, as every person who has ever won a game of Monopoly knows, only work when they are sited in dense neighborhoods, where there is plenty of traffic and economic activity.  Those neighborhoods are served by public transportation, sewers, city water, and other infrastructure (how many hotels have their own septic systems?).  Why ask the hotel guest to pay twice, first to the hotel and then to the locality?

California's Proposition 13, which placed a 2% cap on the annual increase in property assessments and a 1% cap on the property tax, without reducing at all the public demand for the services government provides or the costs of providing those services, has led to an incredible range of undesirable outcomes. Hotel taxes are just a small part of it.

Jeff Smith and Kris Nelson: Giving Life to the Property Tax Shift (PTS)

John Muir is right. "Tug on any one thing and find it connected to everything else in the universe." Tug on the property tax and find it connected to urban slums, farmland loss, political favoritism, and unearned equity with disrupted neighborhood tenure. Echoing Thoreau, the more familiar reforms have failed to address this many-headed hydra at its root. To think that the root could be chopped by a mere shift in the property tax base -- from buildings to land -- must seem like the epitome of unfounded faith. Yet the evidence shows that state and local tax activists do have a powerful, if subtle, tool at their disposal. The "stick" spurring efficient use of land is a higher tax rate upon land, up to even the site's full annual value. The "carrot" rewarding efficient use of land is a lower or zero tax rate upon improvements. ...

issues:  How much of the central business district (CBD) is owned by absentees? One argument for a hotel tax is that it taxes out-of-state visitors who don't vote (locally). Yet in North Carolina, for example, nine of the ten largest private landowners are headquartered out-of-state. In Los Angeles, more than half of the CBD is owned abroad. In all of LA, an even greater amount of land is held by absentee Americans due to chain stores owning land there but being based elsewhere. Easy political targets for PTS? ...

A big problem needs a big solution which in turn needs a matching shift of our prevailing paradigm. Geonomics -- advocating that we share the social value of sites and natural resources and untax earnings -- does just that. Read the whole article

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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper