Don’t fear ‘Garden Tax’ – Land Value Tax is a good idea

I’ve written before that housing, property prices, land rights and so on are a big chuffing catastrophe for a lot of people in the UK, more so the young and property-less more than anyone else. For example, I couldn’t read the whole of ‘All that is solid’ by Danny Dorling because it just ended up making me really sad. I even blogged about this occasionally to a small audience of weirdos. (And I ask you – is there a higher calling?)

I felt simultaneously annoyed and compelled to write something about the news (specifically in the Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Express, Star) popping up slamming what they choose to call the called ‘Garden Tax’ announced in the Labour manifesto for the just-around-the-corner general election… but it’s not.

What the Labour manifesto says is: “We will initiate a review into reforming council tax and business rates and consider new options such as a land value tax, to ensure local government has sustainable funding for the long term.”

They aren’t promising to do a damn thing, just that they’re at least going to *think* about it. Even the suggested rate of 3% being bandied around in the headline figures is hard to track down and probably just ‘imagined into existence’.

There is nothing about your garden in there. This causes enough panic and despair that the news outlets mentioned earlier are happy to spin this into:

“Secret plan for £4,000 garden tax, Garden tax would see council tax TREBLE, Imagine what Labour’s garden tax would mean”… etc ad nauseam

I tell you what your garden is though, first thing: it’s LAND. As is the land under your house or the roads and fields around you.

Think about why LAND is different to LABOUR or CAPITAL for a minute.

Can it ever be produced? Can it be hidden in an offshore bank account, or hidden from the taxman in other clever ways? Does it keep increasing in value despite you literally doing nothing other than exist, as it’s owner?

If anything should be taxed, surely land, which is the ultimate monopoly, should be? Nothing happens without land, right? All value comes from the land.

Why not shift to more Land Value Tax, then tax less through the (inevitably doomed) Council Tax, Income tax, Business rates, VAT… Face it: they all seem so arbitrary by default.

I rambled more here about the Land Value Tax and there is a huge and comprehensive list of arguments defending it here: (link) – Or the Labour Land Campaigns own document here

The ‘Garden’ label is what I want to focus on though.

Who doesn’t like a garden? But, who owns a garden of their own?

Everyone wants a garden… that’s how great they are! But obviously not everyone can have one.

Why not look up the value of a car parking space in central London, or a beach hut in Kent, or ask someone who could sell their single allotment for five figures to a neighboring house.

Your garden is land, and if labour and capital should be taxed, then land should be taxed first.

The view always seems to be that LVT is a smart idea that no-one actually wants to implement, or that no-one ever gets the consensus to actually follow through on. I imagine it will be a bit like Universal Income which seemed like utter cobblers about 10 years ago, yet is starting to see some adoption today.

 

Fair enough: your garden IS amazing – so tax it, like anything else that has value.

 

(even though we’re not talking about gardens, just land, of which you have decided to turn some into a garden)
Who knew that garden, as a word, derived from gher, “to grasp, enclose” (Not me until 5 minutes ago)

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