Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Property Tax Caps

You'll find more on this topic on the page about California's Proposition 13.

Many states have regulations which cap assessment increases or cap property tax rates. These are generally promoted as tax relief for the "little guy" (or the poor widow) but end up providing even larger benefits for those who own the best-located properties (usually commercial or waterfront locations) which tend to have the fastest appreciation.

The result is that either the owners of the slower-appreciating properties bear a disproportionate share of the property tax, or the municipality or state must turn to more damaging taxes like sales taxes or taxes on work, both of which damage the economy.

But property tax caps sound so appealing that people vote for them, without considering the kinds of effects they will have in just a few years.


Mason Gaffney: George's Economics of Abundance: Replacing dismal choices with practical resolutions and synergies

4. Local, state, and national applications

Georgist policy can be applied at any level: local, state, or national. To some extent it is even applied at a world level, through the U.N., with its concept of "common heritage" applied to oceanic resources of the deep seabeds.

Georgist tax policy can also be applied at any tax rate, low or high. A low rate does a little good; a high rate does a lot of good.

In this Century, strenuous efforts have been made to box the property tax into the local level, where local particularism tends to cap the rate. In England, this policy is identified with the half-brothers, Austen and Neville Chamberlain. Neville was so successful that in 1938 he was forced to face Adolf Hitler without any armed support, with the disaster at Munich. In America the Federal government last taxed land in the Georgist manner during the Civil War. After 1913 it taxed the income from land, but in recent years the income tax has degenerated into a payroll tax primarily. In tandem with the other payroll tax it has become a primary cause of our depressed labor market.

In 1920, about half of all state revenues (not counting local) came from state property taxes. These tended to focus on land, rather than capital, much more than now. Both the state and Federal governments could tax land again, any time the voters send that message. .... 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