Monday, January 8, 2007

Local Government Funding in the UK: Trip, Stumble and Fall?

I have quite a few pals in the UK, who are trying hard to get the word out about LVT. Naturally, it isn't easy. The Tories think that land value taxes are unfair to the Duke of Westminsters of the world, a relic knee-jerk from the threat that Churchill and Lloyd George's People's Budget 0f 1910 posed. During that bloodletting, the Lords gave up their power of the purse, rather than give up their private land rent.
Labour, or at least New Labour, contends that the land value tax is quaint, like (ha ha ha) the window tax of yore. Nothing like sniggering yuppies to put the country on the right track!

Yet, the winds of change are buffeting the somnolent minds of Britain. Today's Guardian
has a great bit of commentary by Ashley Seager, the Guardian's Economics Correspondent. titled A Land Tax is 200 Years Overdue. Amen.

Also, The Daily Mail - which seems to specialize in expressing the "we can't take it any more" segment of the British population - leads with a Labour scheme to change local council ratings (the local property tax to Americans) from a vague banding system of value to one based on frequent reassessments, the better to snatch value from improvements to property.

As Paul Weller used to shout "Oi!" The worst way to reform a property tax is to tax more of what we want people to do: fix up, build and invest in new homes. Already, council tax rewards unused and vacant buildings. this new twist will discourage use and reuse of property further.
Stories like this are popping up all over the UK, and everyone should read them and contribute. I managed to get a comment into the readers' forum...

Oi! All over the country
(We want a new direction)

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