Monday, 17 May 2021

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (488)

@benjit14 (aka BenJamin') replied on Twitter:

Of course we can internalise the cost/benefit of NIMBYism by taxing location rents at 100%. That would solve housing issues without the need to build a single extra home. Thats what good econ looks like. Bad econ only sees the supply side.

Floppy haired developers' friend @K_Niemitz countered:

This is why I mute Georgists. Georgism is the belief that you could fit the entire population of Britain into one single house, provided the ground underneath that house is taxed.

BenJamin' clearly said "without the need to build a single extra home", I'm not sure how mentally deficient you'd have to be to interpret that as "we'd all fit into one single house".

Meanwhile, back in the real world...

1. Population of England & Wales = 56.1 million.

2. Number of bedrooms in England & Wales according to the 2011 Census = 63.6 million. The ONS explain that there's a big margin of error here, it's based on sampling. How do you define 'bedroom'? What about Dad's study or Mum's home gym upstairs? What about downstairs rooms that aren't used much and which could be used as somebody's bedroom? And the number from the 2021 Census will be higher. But it will do for a start.

Let's assume three-quarters of the population are adults, and half of those are in a couple (who still get on with each other), if every couple shares a bedroom and 'everybody else' has one bedroom each, we would need approx. 45.6 million bedrooms. And we have 63.6 million, which is an extra 40%, so the average number occupied by couple-family with two kids would be just over 4. I suspect a median family with kids lives in a three-bed semi (so they're losing out) and we know there are a lot of people with holiday homes, retirees still in a family home etc (who are winning).

Do we really have a housing shortage overall, taking "one bedroom each" as a decent base level? Nope. Would LVT go a long way to shifting people closer to the average? Yup. Clearly LVT wouldn't get us all the way there, but so what? The retirees in a family home who also have a holiday home would be paying for the privilege and the family in crowded accommodation would be compensated, however indirectly. Which was BenJamin's actual point.

(For sure, you can blame crowded families for not earning enough to pay for somewhere decent or for having too many kids. But if they all earned more and all wanted to trade up, prices would just slip out of their grasp. The misallocation would be barely affected.)


mombers said...

As soon as you mention the number of spare bedrooms you get accused of being a Communist, by the same people who insist that the state can interfere with people's private property rights to the point of imprisonment if they want to build their own spare bedroom. And that's not even starting on the much more serious interfering with private property rights when it comes to socialising labour and capital

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, agreed. Obviously I am only using "bedrooms" as an example of how much housing stock i.e. developed land we have i.e. there is no 'housing shortage'.

Bayard said...

"I'm not sure how mentally deficient you'd have to be to interpret that as "we'd all fit into one single house"."

Not mentally deficient, just a case of TLDR, I suspect.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, no, Niemitz has form for completely misrepresenting LVT, he says outright nonsense to wind up Georgists (and admits to doing so). BenJamin' has been at war with him for years.

Lola said...

I am a 'retired couple living in a mansion' - well an extended pair of one up one down 19th Century agri-workers hovels. But I do have four bedrooms. Plus a study. And a room in the roof of the garage. So I am clearly over-bedroomed.

But, I like it here. And I have four daughters plus three daughters partners and seven grandchildren who frequently use us a holiday break.

It seems to me that even with full on LVT (Yay!) we'd still - collectively - be far better off as the savings on holiday costs for my children would be really worth having.

Anyway this whole 'you have too many bedrooms' meme is lefty envy SOP.

Also the ONS stats show that we HAVE been approximately enough dwelling units to house our expanding population.

mombers said...

@Lola for me it's not a case of 'Too many bedrooms' envy. It's a case of there should be a strong connection between your contribution to the economy and how much housing you are allocated by the state controlled 'market'. An imperfect measure of how much you put 'in' is earned income (pension is deferred income in my opinion BTW). My income is close to the 99th percentile but our house is nowhere near this.
Too many low income people in very valuable homes and too many low, middle and high income people doing their best but in unnecessarily crowded, poor quality homes unnecessarily far from amenities. LVT sorts this out beautifully.

Lola said...

M. Pensions are 'technically, exactly 'deferred income'. That's reflected in the taxation principles behind them. Especially that pension annuities are taxed on the whole payment, not just the interest component.

Agreed with the rest of that comment.

Oh, and I'm miles from any amenities... a plus point AFAIAC

Bayard said...

Mark that was sort of what I meant. He saw something about LVT and fired off his reply without actually reading it, just a knee-jerk reflex, so more a combination of arrogance and laziness than mental deficiency, which is probably worse.

mombers said...

@Lola pensions are deferred earned income but treated much more favourably than current earned income. I get tax relief at an astonishing 66.6% (60% income tax due to silly taper, 2% NI, 13.8% employer NI) yet under current rates will pay 20% income tax provided my income is under £50k. And I can take a 25% chunk tax free. A ridiculous idea, how much of that goes directly into land values? 100% I guess. Many people get a mortgage that is unrealistic to pay off before retirement on the basis that they can whack it down with this freebie. Others will take it out and immediately jump into BTL

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, the pension calculations are mad. For the first time in my life, I am on the right end of a massive tax break.

Lola said...

M and MW. Well yes. 'Most people' do not use the TFC to pay off a mortgage. Well, that's our experience but then we tell them to pay off their mortgage as soon as they can anyway. Most often the TFC goes to things like a car (one client diagnosed with terminal cancer took his went straight round to his Jag dealer and bout an F Type - good plan IMHO). Or the TFC gets re-invested back in an ISA/ISAs for more tax free income. Or sometimes - and this is bad - given to a child as a house deposit. I do know from other sources that TFC often goes to pay off unsecured borrowing.

I don't agree with higher ate tax relief on pensions. The bulk of the tax relief 'costs' goes to Higher rate taxpayers. I would restrict it to basic rate.

Right now, the government are using a combination of coercion (auto-enrolment) and subsidy (tax breaks) to get people to save for pensions so that they can scrap/slash the cost of state pensions.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, "the government are using a combination of coercion (auto-enrolment) and subsidy (tax breaks) to get people to save for pensions so that they can scrap/slash the cost of state pensions."

That's the myth, that it's cheaper to 'encourage' people to save than it is to pay them an old age pension.

Clearly, the reverse is true.

The bulk of the 'encouragement' superficially goes to higher rate taxpayers (who would save up for their old age anyway, with or without 'encouragement') but is actually largely siphoned off by the FS sector. And the high earners still get the state pension anyway.

Low and middle earners can't afford to save up much, with or without 'encouragement' and get the state pension anyway.

Lola said...

MW. Well yes. ish. Auto-enrollment is definitely but not explicitly to get people off the state pension. And it's 'targeted' at low and middle earners. And you will have observed that I think contribution tax relief needs to be restricted to basic rate. Plus, as I may have said before, you can now buy pension funds with costs capped at about 0.5% p.a.

Actually the worse siphoning off of tax subsidies is in cash ISA's. Or was in cash ISA's when the was an actual interest rate to game.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, see today's post on pension charges.

Robin Smith said...

Have you considered Location Value Covenants, Ben?

Where the people are not punished into loving each other as LVT does.

Yet, the rents are all collected for public purposes still.

Only a religious person would "mute" this. :)