Lord Halifax [responding to Wellington]: "With land value tax, someone is always paying."
That'll be because land yields an income....?(1) And, over time, you end up paying more in tax than the asset itself is worth?(2) That's fair?(3)
And you pay tax on assets which lose value? (4) Interesting.
And you have to revalue every single year, because things change in value? Should be a piece of cake on compliance and policing.(5) And some assets can change in value many times in a year. So on what date are my gold bars valued?(6)
1) Land has a cash rental value. You can turn it into cash by renting it out or selling it, you can consume that rental value by occupying the land, or indeed you can pay rent to somebody else for the right to occupy it. The value is the same and that value is constantly being generated and consumed, minute by minute, day by day, year by year.
The fact that land does not spew out pound notes is neither here nor, neither does a car factory or a hairdresser's. The factory produces cars, which the manufacturer turns into cash by selling them. The scissors do not produce cash, the hairdresser uses them to produce hair cuts which people are prepared to pay for.
2) So what?
You can apply that argument to taxes on earnings and output. Many, in fact probably most, people will pay/suffer far more in tax in their lives than whatever the value of their "assets" is when they die. Under current rules, they pay £x in income taxes each year and receive benefits (in cash or in kind) to the value of £y. There is no particular correlation between £x and £y and no guarantee that you will end up richer at the end of the year - you achieve that by consuming less than you earn as you go along.
Further, the tax is on the annual rental value and the "value" (by which I assume he means "selling price") of "the asset" is irrelevant. You might choose to occupy the nicest plot with the nicest view and make do with a static caravan or a tent. Or you might have a five-bed mansion built. The rental value of the plot is the same and the tax would be the same.
3) Yes it is.
4) As stated in (3), the value of the "asset" measured by selling prices is irrelevant. And we pay tax on our cars and petrol, which lose value or get used up quite quickly. We have to pay VAT on cinema tickets or hair cuts, which have no second hand value at all.
5) The tax is on the annual rental value of each plot and we have to accept that no particular valuation method is hyper-scientifically accurate. No tax system is. Why is additional rate income tax 45%? Why not 40% or 48.37% or 33.33333%? It's just a fairly arbitrary percentage multiplied by a fairly arbitrary definition of wealth. Why are biscuits liable to VAT but not cakes? Why is the personal allowance £9,440? Why not £nil, or £10,000, or £10,326.57?
It's easy to establish relative values and pitch the tax at anything less than (say) eighty per cent of that to give a margin of safety. That is a damn' sight less arbitrary than just about anything else in the tax system. And at least with LVT there is some moral and economic justification for it, unlike taxes on income.
6) For a start, LVT does not apply to gold bars.
Secondly, it's a tax on the annual value, so yearly revaluations seems appropriate. Once the system is up and running, updating last year's figures in the light of this year's rental value and selling prices is a doddle, it would cost about 10p per plot to do the whole country. We managed Domestic Rates for nearly four hundred years and Business Rates are (is?) still going strong.
Finally, whatever the tax liability on a plot is, even if it is somehow subjectively "incorrect", it will be reflected in selling prices of land and buildings on the open market. So for a given tax liability, the selling price of land and buildings is always "correct" in open market terms. Therefore, that same tax bill must also be "correct" relative to the open market value of the land and buildings.
Friday, 9 August 2013
My latest blogpost: Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (306)Tweet this! Posted by Mark Wadsworth at 17:00