Sunday, 20 March 2016

Why do we pay taxes?

What MW's LLC friend (see below blog), should first do is go back to basics and ask why do we pay taxes in the first place?

There are two separate classes of State spending.

Core spending on those items we cannot provide for ourselves.  Defence, foreign affairs, police, justice, transport etc

Re-distributive spending on items many of us could not afford without help. Pensions, welfare, schools, hospitals etc

If most State spending is re-distributive, this must be because there is not a fair distribution of the factors of production to begin with. This is why we pay most of our taxes.

Assuming we have competitive markets, reproducible factors Income and Capital should already be fairly distributed. If they are not then the efficient solution is to reform the market, not higher taxation.

Land is irreproducible and it’s value unevenly distributed.  Therefore, even in competitive markets, there will always be an unfair distribution of the value derived from it,  unless we all gain an equal share through the tax system.

Failure to equally share the value derived from natural resources leads to excessively high inequality, and a loss of efficiency.

All taxes lower  rental income and the selling price of Land.

The fair, efficient way to share the value derived from Land is a direct tax upon it ie a 100% Land Value Tax

The indirect, unfair, inefficient way to share the value derived from Land are taxes on income, capital and transactions.

We have chosen to do more of the later, which creates the double whammy of not fully addressing the issue of inequality caused by unequal land value distribution (still over £200bn pa to go) , while at the same time shrinking the economy by taxing produced factors.

If Land were reproducible like any other factor, the only morally defensible, or indeed necessary way of paying for core services would be a Poll Tax.

My conclusion is that Socialists seek to preserve an unjust distribution of income, capital and land in order to maintain the large State apparatus needed to mitigate all the ill effects that result from such an economic system.

This is why they will never fully embrace a 100% Land Value Tax. They love control more than they love equality and justice.

As for the Tories, I’m sure they cannot believe their luck. They don't even have to try in order to maintain the status quo.


Unknown said...

Great article.

2 points:

I agree with what you say about socialism, but in fairness to the leftoids they do seem a bit more on board with LVT, than the rightoids.

Land Tax yes, but other natural resources no - in my view, since they require economic goods; liquidity, risk, and information/knowledge as necessary inputs. A better use for royalties from same would I think be to create sov. wealth funds for, I don't know, disability say. Because we're selling our capital in effect and we should re-invest some. Patents and copyright are the other suitable place for appropriate taxes. Not sure about agriculture/industrial, or come to that any commercial - maybe it should be all residential.

Again, great article.

benj said...

@ Sean

Land is all that is not supplied by human effort.

What part of the value of natural resources can we call Land? That is the part which didn't require information, knowledge or inputs.

The reason the Saudis are so fabulously wealthy is because their large reserves of oil are relatively easy/cheap to exploit compared to those at the margin of production ie Canadian Tar sands.

The difference in cost of production between the two is Land Rent. The bit that didn't require any effort or input on behalf of the Saudis.

This "margin of production" thing is all important:)

Anything that taxes human effort will cause an inefficiency, and therefore by definition cannot be a Land tax.

Random said...

This sounds about right, fix the distribution not excessive tax.

I'll give my two socialist pennies (:

Markets are only useful in circumstances where the loss from the inefficiency of competition (which is duplication) is less than the loss from ossification. And it can only work in a circumstance where 'no deal' is an option.

For competition to work effectively you need effective regulation and constant intervention to break up emerging monopolies. Because the actual effect of competition is to create natural monopolies.

Plus he basic failure of "Scientific Management" aka Taylorism.

Probably the best summary is by Dan Pink in 'The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us'

There's a TED talk video and RSA animation about it:

Ted Talk

RSA Animation

But the *main* problem is not excesses of capitalism but the Corporatism that has taken root.

I also think the labour market is unfree.

The job of the private sector should be to be efficient. Which means putting people out of work. Having a private sector that 'provides jobs' and is 'productive' is an oxymoron.

A private sector employing everybody is a feudal society tilling the land. A ridiculously advanced society would have nobody employed by the private sector. Because it isn't efficient to employ moist robots, when the un-moist ones don't need to go do moist things on a regular basis.

You have to have something for people to do that allows them to be effective from their own point of view, and valuable members of society from everybody else's point of view. And you need a means of organising that.

The standard labour market on its own won't do it I'm afraid. A standard labour market eliminates people that have no purpose by starving them to death.

Steven_L said...

A better use for royalties from same would I think be to create sov. wealth funds

A SWF is just a way of the government controlling and socialising a nations' savings. It makes little sense where there is no trade surplus unless you want to create a deflationary pressure.

UK folk have been voting for more inflation (more spending/printing over and above taxation) all throughout north sea oil. So don't fall for their 'We wanted a SWF' bollocks.

They voted for inflationary 'home-owner-ist' policies.

Mark Wadsworth said...

"Socialists seek to preserve an unjust distribution of income, capital and land in order to maintain the large State apparatus needed to mitigate all the ill effects that result from such an economic system."

Yes, good point.

SL, yes, in a perfect world there would be no SWFs, but if you look at Norway, they probably did the right thing, the oil money was a short term thing,so to prevent people from becoming too reliant on oil revenues (i.e. low taxes on incomes) the government just put all the money on the top shelf where nobody could get at it.

Lola said...

Mw etc.

Socialism is about control. Once you start charging a simple user charge for land occupation and redistribute the surplus back by way of a citizens income just what control would socialists actually retain? 'No income tax no VAT' (tra la)...No need to Mon Wage etc etc

Apropos Minimum Wage I don't think we have a low wage problem at all. We have a high tax and rent problem. Solve those and again what do socialists actually do?

Anyway socialism is a foul creed of moral and economic bankruptcy that denies liberty, private property rights and self determination leaving all things to be rationed by self interested bureaucrats. It's also, if you look around, actually set out to murder 10's if not 100's of millions of people since the God awful thing was dreamed up in the 1870's/1880's.