The Forum: Taxation of Land Values

Carrie St., Quigney, East London, S. Africa.
Dear Sir,—I should be glad if you would enlighten me through the medium of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, upon the subject of “Land Values”—taxing the land 20s. in the £. Would this not lead up to Socialism ?
What prompted this question is a pamphlet which I have read entitled : “The Story of my Dictatorship,” from the Land Values Publication Department, London.


In dealing with the question of Taxation of Land Values it must be remembered that the advocates of this measure, from Henry George to Joseph Hyder, always assumed the retention of capitalism in all its other features.

Under such conditions there is no difference in principle between taxing land and taxing lace. Both are cases of the Governmental powers being used to take wealth from members of society for general purposes—as wise old Benjamin Franklin saw.

Taxation is, of course, necessary under capitalism, and the only question is, how shall the “burden” be apportioned among the taxpayers—the capitalist class. The land-owning section are quite sure the “burden” should not be placed on them, while the industrial capitalists are equally certain that they should not be called upon to pay. Hence the minor quarrel between them over taxes.

But under capitalism the joining together of these two sections into a land-owning industrial capitalist group is steadily increasing. For them the problem is solved. From the general capitalist standpoint the portion of wealth best able to bear the “burden” of taxation is land, as it disturbs the production and distribution of commodities— the great factor of capitalism—less than any other method of raising the sum required. Hence large landowners who happen to be still more largely interested in industry, favour taxation of land values, to the great bewilderment of “the man in the street,” who finally explains a landowner being in favour of taxing land by the theory that he is ” a good man.”

Except, then, as an indication of the development of capitalism, and the concentration of both land and industrial capital into fewer hands, taxation of land values, even up to 20s. in the £, no more leads to Socialism than would taxa¬tion of toffee. On the contrary, it would merely be one of the steps in the more efficient organisation of capitalism for the benefit of the capitalists.

J. F.

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