Posts Tagged ‘land tax’

Assessor ignores assessment policy

Last week, the Tribune published Cook County Assessor James Houlihan’s fiscal reform proposal.  He wants to restructure the state sales tax and the state income tax, claiming that this would not only balance the state budget but also provide more funds to localities, theoretically allowing them to reduce real estate taxes.

But Mr. Assessor, how about the assessment and extension of real estate taxes.  You know, the stuff you do?  Can’t you improve that?  Maybe you could start by assessing vacant land properly?  And making sure that land value is fully included in all assessments?  That’s not going to discourage any economic activity.

Then maybe we could ask the solons of the Cook County Board to change the property classification system, assessing improvements at only 40% of the ratio applied to land value? They could do this under existing law. Maybe they could even exempt improvements entirely?  And, while we’re asking the Illinois General Assembly to reform things, why not eliminate the sales and income taxes, by resurrecting the state sales tax?

Regular readers of this blog, and Henry George School students, know why this is a good idea.  Evidently Assessor Houlihan doesn’t want us to even think about it.

Philadelphia needs land tax, too

Henry George Foundation’s Josh Vincent had a nice op-ed in Thursday’s Philadelphia Bulletin, noting that there is a good case for cutting taxes on work and investment, and a good case for increasing the budget to pay for needed services.  His point is that this doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.  By taxing land adequately, taxes can be cut and service maintained or improved. No great revelation to Georgists, but it’s good to see it in a major newspaper.

Progress in Pennsylvania, maybe Connecticut

The March ’08 issue (pdf) of the Center for the Study of Economics’ Incentive Taxation newsletter has a couple of positive notes.

Washington, PA, a split-rate city for decades, solved a budget deficit by raising the tax on land to 82.63 mills, while taxing buildings at a rate of only 3.5 mills. Thus the added tax burden goes mainly to people who are leaving land idle, and doesn’t discourage productive construction or investment.

And in New London, CT., the Re-New London Council recommends a land tax because of its benefits to, among other things, housing affordability. Had such a policy been in place over past decades, perhaps the Kelo case would never have happened.