Wealth and Want
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Mason Gaffney:  The Taxable Capacity of Land
Taiwan is another place that "did it," in part. Its present government is what remains of the Kuomintang, founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen on the mainland around 1920. Sun's ideas were abandoned to corruption until the Kuomintang's remnants, discredited and beaten, fled to Taiwan in 1948. Then finally, backs to the wall, they purified themselves. They put Sun's visage on their currency and buildings, and beatified him. They created an efficient, honest government and applied the policies Dr. Sun had prescribed long ago for all China. Sun's basic economic program was simple. He was a convert to the ideas of Henry George, which were stirring the world in Sun's formative years. Tax the land; exempt the buildings, said Dr. Sun. That is what Taiwan finally did; the Taiwanese economic miracle ensued. It is there to see and study. Them as has eyes t'see, let'm see.  

It's not that simple, of course, and certainly not that pure: nothing ever is. That is the gist of it, however. As to adequacy of revenues, they have combined their local land tax with a national tax on land gains, levied at time of sale. These two taxes between them raise a full 20% of all Taiwanese revenues: local, regional, and national. Remember we are talking about a government under siege, with a heavy military budget. We are talking about land prices that keep rising in spite of taxes levied on the land value base. Again, it is there to observe. It is not in America, true: it is even better. It is an American export that took root and flourishes in an alien culture because it answers universal needs. Among the Chinese it also evoked memories of revered statesmen and philosophers, like Wang An-shih, who had implemented land taxation to abet China's ancient glories.  Read the whole article

Fred E. Foldvary — The Ultimate Tax Reform: Public Revenue from Land Rent

The German colony of Kiaochow, China, established in 1898, had a single tax on land value set at 6 percent.35 Its principal city, Tsing-tao, developed into a fine modern city. The Germans lost the colony in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, but their experience influenced the Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, who became head of the government of China. He and his successors in the Nationalist Party were not able to implement land value taxation in that country, but when they moved to Taiwan in 1950 after the communists took the mainland, Chiang-kai shek implemented a land-to-the-tiller reform accompanied by a tax on land value. Taiwan has since developed into a major industrial power. Hong Kong and Singapore became major commercial centers in large part because much of their public finance is based on taxing land values, or in the case of Hong Kong, from selling land leases, with low taxes on trade and commerce. ... read the whole document


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