The UK economy is beset by three compounding problems: no growth, a high deficit and a constricting straightjacket of regulations. I posit that a reform to land-use planning, partnered with a land-value tax (LVT) substituted for business rates and council tax, offers a potential solution to all of these.
The unique merits of a land-value tax have pressed on the minds of economists for over 200 years. Economics has taught us how to analyse taxes against the criteria of efficiency, equity and revenue raising potential. The taxes most heavily applied in the UK today succumb to the theory of the second best: for example, income tax damages efficiency by perverting labour supply decisions; business rates distort firms’ input decisions, such that scarce resources are misallocated and final goods are not produced in the least-cost way. The key driver of inefficiency in both cases is the responsiveness of the payer, or the elasticity. High elasticities imply a greater distortion and greater efficiency loss. (...)
The LVT is an annual levy on the underlying value of land. What is on top, whether it’s residential housing, a factory or wheat is of no importance, so that an empty plot of land next to a plot with a mansion on are valued the same ceteris paribus. This value is derived from the amenities and infrastructure which surround it, or Ricardian economic rent monies accruing not by virtue of work or returns to capital but by virtue of exclusive rights over the land’s use, or ownership. As described by Henry George in 1879, and more recently by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the Mirrlees Review, this value is borne out of community effort, rather than individual effort, and therefore its returns should properly be redistributed back to that community.
Since the supply of land is finite and fixed, it is perfectly inelastic. This means that economic decisions are unaffected by the tax and that the incidence coincides with the legal payer (landowner). When a landowner builds a swimming pool on his plot its value increases but his LVT payment remains unchanged; when a public swimming pool is built a short walk away and the value of his plot increases, so does his tax liability. There is no efficiency cost.
Eu não diria que a oferta de terra é totalmente elástica, mas anda lá perto.