by Art Costa
Connecticut has an opportunity to reverse the blight of our urban centers. There is a convergence between what we know about urban efficiencies and sustainability, and the desire to release us from the bondage of the property tax.
The property tax has within it a "bad" and a "good" component. The bad is the tax on buildings (capital and labor). A tax on buildings creates land speculation, slumlords, and urban blight. The good tax is the one on land. Today Connecticut's property tax is primarily on the "bad." Henry George, the 19th Century political economist, provided the theoretical underpinnings of a perfect tax in his opus Progress and Poverty.
With a Land Value Tax (LVT), property tax is reformed. Revenue shifts from buildings, allowing homeowners to improve their property without incurring disincentives, while taxing society's shared commonwealth - Land. A number of wonderful things occur with this simple shift. A few of these are:
- Land speculation, which hoards societal wealth, drastically declines.
- Efficiency of urban centers, where the greatest societal wealth is created, begins to come back to life.
- Affordable housing for homes and rents is achieved.
- Taxation is spread across the city as it is fairly levied on land use.
- The tax burden is reduced on middle and lower income citizens.
- The city has the necessary and sufficient revenue to pay for its infrastructure, social services and schools.
As you might imagine, LVT is a Green Tax. It has been endorsed by every major environmentalist organization throughout the world. Lastly, all of the aforementioned is supported by over 200 empirical studies worldwide.
Art Costa is co-founder of Re-New London, a non-profit group organized around the principles of sustainable living economies, community building and social justice. He ran for New London City Council on the NL Green ticket in 2007. For more information, see www.re-newlondon.org.