Friday, December 9, 2011

Rethinking the Property Tax

It used to be a great idea; fund local government by taxing property. Before the industrial revolution the only significant source of income was land.  The owners of land, essentially royalty or the church, received income from lands in the form of rent or directly from the production of that land whose value was considered to be 20 years of derived income.

Thus it was sensible and fair to tax the value of that land as a source of local revenue. During that period, land values were quite stable.  If one's land were worth twice another's land it remained twice the value year after year and he paid twice the tax.

The result was a system of property taxes that was transparent, related fairly to one's ability to pay and was easy to assess.