Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Great Trees of East Devon

Last summer, Transition Exeter invited over speakers from the Henry George Society to look at the notion of taxing one of the most valuable assets we have:
Futures Forum: Economics @ Transition Exeter: A land value tax

Another such meeting is happening next week - and will focus on the very practical question of:

Why is housing so expensive, and what could Land Value Taxation contribute?

  • Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    7:30 PM to 
  • Exeter Community Centre

    17 St David's Hill EX4 3RG, Exeter (map)
  • EXETER Community Centre, Cowick Room
    This meeting will be chaired by Justin Robbins, and Greg McGill will speak. Greg is a planning and development consultant who used to be senior tutor at the College of Estate Management at Reading. He is the co-author of an influential review of assessment methods for Land Value Taxation in the light of the Whitstable surveys of 1963 and 1973, and has been commissioned to write a book about the housing crisis 
Why is housing so expensive, and what could Land Value Taxation contribute? - Henry George Society of Devon (Land Value Taxation) (Totnes, England) - Meetup

More on the Henry George Society:

We are an informal group with a enthusiasm for the ideas of the 19th century political economist Henry George. We share a belief that the wealth of the natural world should be shared for the benefit of all people - Earth Sharing - by means of a Land Value Tax. This single tax, on the value of land and natural resources, should replace all other forms of taxation and provide an unconditional Citizen's Income for all. We provide a point of contact, forum and network for likeminded people in this part of the world. Our meetings, held four or five times each year, are an opportunity to share experiences, listen to guest speakers and discuss the issues of the day. These meetings are always open to anybody. 

Henry George Society of Devon (Land Value Taxation) (Totnes, England) - Meetup

The blog has some excellent articles on the subject:
The Henry George Society of Devon | Fostering and promoting a greater understanding of Georgist Economics in Devon

For example:

Housing crisis? What housing crisis?

Mark Wadsworth works as a tax advisor and is interested in tax, welfare and land reform, as well as being the treasurer of the Young People’s Party UK. Here, he gives his take on how a land value tax could help solve Britain’s housing crisis

Mark Wadsworth Headshot
It would be foolish to describe the current situation in the UK housing market as a “crisis,” as this suggests some unforeseen events which suddenly come to a head and which the government has to deal with urgently. Far from it, the state of the housing market is the inevitable result of quite deliberate changes in UK government policy over the last thirty years or so, which we are feeling the full impact of now.
Government policies
If we go back to the period between 1945 and the 1980s, what is remarkable is the rate at which owner-occupation levels increased. The share of owner-occupier households rose from 30% to 60%; the proportion of social tenants increased from 20% to 30% and – in a development which has received much less attention – the share of households renting privately fell from 50% to 10%.
The spread of owner-occupation is often perceived to have created a more equitable distribution of wealth, but as we will see, this trend did not happen by accident: it was the direct result of policies which were intended to reduce the concentration of wealth – it was the effect and not the cause.
Most sickening of all is that the Baby Boomers have conveniently forgotten all this;, they genuinely believe that they are somehow morally superior because they ‘rolled up their sleeves and paid off the mortgage’. They are blind to the fact that they could buy their first home for a price that was only half the regulated price, and they did not even pay off their mortgages out of taxed income – their interest payments were subsidized via a scheme called Mortgage Interest Relief at Source (MIRAS), so a large chunk was paid out of untaxed income.
The unearned capital gains they think they have earned are merely the direct result of the abolition of all the old regulations designed to redistribute the location value in an equitable fashion. The wealth that they have accumulated was handed to them on a plate; they bought at a time when the government kept rents and house prices low and are selling at a time when the government has allowed rents and house prices to skyrocket.
Speaking on behalf of the Young People’s Party, reintroducing the old system of rent and mortgage caps, building more social housing etc would be a good step forwards, but in terms of ensuring an even fairer distribution of location values and hence wealth, there is an even better policy – which is to reduce taxes on earnings and output and to increase taxes on location values instead.
Calculations suggest that if we moved half the tax burden off earnings and output and onto land values, young working households would be £10,000 a year better off. Such a tax system could easily be run in conjunction with rent and mortgage caps, so this is not an either-or choice.
Housing crisis? What housing crisis? | The Henry George Society of Devon

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