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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Against Property Taxes

Geolibertarians don't favor taxes on property per se.  Instead, we favor the return of ground rent.

Ground rent is the advantage you get over your neighbors from your exclusive use of a site compared to the most productive available site that is not in use.  In effect, ground rent is the extra income a site earns because of the exclusivity of its location within the community, as compared to what such a site would earn at the edge of the community.  Technically, ground rent is is the extra income obtained by using a site in its most productive use, compared to the income obtained by applying equivalent inputs of labor and capital at the most productive site where the application doesn't require (additional) payments for use of the site. Thus ground rent doesn't include the income from any labor-based site improvements -- buildings, irrigation, swamp drainage, etc.  Instead, ground rent includes just the benefit a site extracts from the surrounding community by forcibly excluding them from it.

Geo-rent is not created by the land-holder, and so cannot be property. Property is justly acquired from the commons only if you follow the Lockean proviso of leaving "as much and as good".  If there are other locations freely available that are just as good as yours, then you aren't appropriating any ground rent and so owe nothing.  If development follows you out into the woods and your site monopoly starts "earning" ground rent for you, then you can let what you owe accumulate as a lien against the eventual sale or transfer of the site, and that lien is capped at the market value of the site.  So you can live undisturbed by land value "taxes" as long as you don't try to appropriate the geo-rent of your site by claiming monarch-like "title" to something you didn't make.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought that 'ground rent' meant payments to the land owner, as in Foster City, or in the Stanford industrial park; not payments to the government.