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April 9, 2012

UN to consider Land Value Capture

A conference of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) affiliated to the UN will this July in New York consider "innovative instruments that capture gains in land value and recover public investments".

The International Union for Land Value Taxation (known as "The IU"), based in London, has "special consultative status" within the UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs (ECOSOC) and has responded to the UN's call for oral and written statements for this July's ECOSOC High Level Statement (HLS). The IU statement reminds the UN that the founding document of UN-HABITAT - the 1976 Vancouver Action Plan - featured clear and strong support for this form of land value capture. It said:-

"Social justice, urban renewal and development, the provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole.... Taxation should not be seen only as a source of revenue for the community but also a powerful tool to encourage development of desirable locations, to exercise a controlling effect on the land market and to redistribute to the public at large the benefits of the unearned increase in land values... The unearned increment resulting from the rise in land values resulting from change in use of land, from public investment or decision or due to the general growth of the community must be subject to appropriate recapture by public bodies."

Author of The IU's statement, Alanna Hartzok of the Earthrights Institute, which runs UN-HABITAT's online Land Rights course, which includes a module on land value capture, says:

"Land Value Capture is a creative public finance policy that utilizes incentive taxation mechanisms that promote productive capacity, employment and decent work while enabling inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth. ... The more governments rely on land value capture for revenue, the lighter need be the tax burden on labor and production."

Scottish economist and IU member Professor Roger Sandilands has pointed out that the author of the 1976 Vancouver Action Plan, Lauchlin Currie, had previously been US President Roosevelt's Personal Economic Adviser to China's President Chiang Kai-Sheck during WWII. Chiang was a follower of Sun Yat-Sen, who was greatly influenced by Henry George - the author of the seminal land-tax 'bible' Progress and Poverty. Nationalist Taiwan adopted a form of Land Value Tax when Chiang fled Communist China in 1948.

PLRG Secretary Dr Tony Vickers has contributed to UN-HABITAT's Global Report on Human Settlements, which next year focuses on Urban Transportation. Working with UCL's Professor Harry Dimitriou, Vickers has again drawn attention to the importance of land value capture policy instruments in achieving sustainable financing of transport infrastructure. A talk in UCL's OMEGA Centre seminars will be delivered by him later this year on the subject.

Posted by Tony Vickers at April 9, 2012 5:31 PM | TrackBack

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