A new land tax is the only efficient and fair way to bring Britain’s finances back into lineby P L / March 23, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry on his estate: 0.3 per cent of Britain’s population owns 69 per cent of its land
Consider these three facts. One: Britain is struggling to recover from a crisis caused in large part by a huge property bubble. Two: unemployment is painfully high. Three: the government has a huge gap in its finances. So, what would you raise taxes on?
Astonishingly, Labour is proposing to raise already high taxes on labour, through an increase in national insurance contributions. Finance fails, so workers pay—this is not only unfair, it will also damage future growth by making labour more expensive. Existing income tax and national insurance already increase labour costs by half, causing unemployment. Raising taxes on something the government wants to encourage—hard work—is perverse.
Another option is taxing harmful things, like carbon emissions. A charge of £30 a tonne could raise around £16bn and reduce emissions. Even better, if the tax per tonne rose as emissions fell, it would ensure a steady source of revenue. But still bigger gains could come from taxing an unproductive asset at the heart of our most recent bubble: land.