From Groundswell, Common Ground USA’s Blog

February 2024 Legislative Update as LVT Gains Traction

February 2024 Legislative Update as LVT Gains Traction

During the short legislative session, we are preparing for the next full session in 2025 to advance our package of bills. Here’s a recap of our recent and current efforts:
Governor’s Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC): The Council’s recommendations for legislative action included adoption of a land value tax. We submitted testimony in November that urged passage of our referral for a constitutional amendment authorizing a local option LVT, whereby counties or cities may by popular vote switch to a split-rate LVT system and be granted an exemption from Measures 5 & 50.  

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COULD BALTIMORE BE THE NEXT PORT OF CALL FOR GEORGIST ECONOMICS?

COULD BALTIMORE BE THE NEXT PORT OF CALL FOR GEORGIST ECONOMICS?

As 2024 begins, so does the 2024 Session of the Maryland General Assembly.  After several failed attempts, we are tantalizingly close to obtaining permissive legislation to allow Baltimore (and Maryland counties should they so choose), to tax land and buildings at different rates.  How did we get to this point?  And what are the key opportunities and challenges to our success?

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Could this obscure tax idea reshape American housing?

Could this obscure tax idea reshape American housing?

Over the last six months, an obscure housing policy idea has emerged as one of the most talked about proposals to revive Detroit, Michigan — an idea that could potentially spur development on the city’s vast amount of vacant property as well as lower the city’s punishingly high taxes on homeowners. Economists are buzzing with interest, and the city’s mayor, Mike Duggan, is all in.

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Portland’s Central City Task Force, a new focus of interest for Common Ground OR/WA during the period between Oregon’s major legislative sessions.

Portland’s Central City Task Force, a new focus of interest for Common Ground OR/WA during the period between Oregon’s major legislative sessions.

In August 2023, Governor Tina Kotek announced the formation of a Portland Central City Task Force (PCCTF), a convening of local elected, business, and community leaders working to tackle issues impacting the economic future of Portland’s Central City.  Basically, this is in response to the problems of homelessness and drug use on the streets of Portland, and the exodus of businesses from the city due to alleged theft of retail stores.  The office vacancy rate in downtown Portland has reached to 31.5%, among the highest in major U.S. cities.

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Victoria to expand vacant residential land tax across state in bid to increase housing supply

Victoria to expand vacant residential land tax across state in bid to increase housing supply

Victoria’s treasurer has shocked the property industry and even some of his colleagues by announcing an expansion of taxes on vacant residential land during Jacinta Allan’s first day of parliament as premier.

Tim Pallas told an industry breakfast on Tuesday that he planned to introduce legislation to parliament this week, which will see the vacant residential land tax expanded to include the whole state from 1 January 2025.

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Detroit ‘split tax’ plan squeezes through House committee, heads to floor

Detroit ‘split tax’ plan squeezes through House committee, heads to floor

Lansing — A House panel Wednesday advanced a series of bills that would allow Detroit to adopt different property rates for occupied and vacant property, eking out a slim Democratic majority to propel a key legislative priority of Mayor Mike Duggan.

House Democrats failed to gain the needed support in Tax Policy Committee earlier Wednesday, but were able to flip the vote of a Grand Rapids Democrat later in the day and secure a majority for Duggan’s property tax reform legislation.

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Baltimore Sun Publishes Letter to Editor from Baltimore Thrive

Baltimore Sun Publishes Letter to Editor from Baltimore Thrive

Baltimore Thrive, an organization dedicated to affordable housing, job creation and equitable development, endorses The Baltimore Sun’s call for “smart growth” in Baltimore (”Target Baltimore for new home construction and transform the region,” July 20). But, instead of tax breaks, Baltimore Thrive suggests atax shift that would reduce the property tax rate applied to privately-created building values while increasing the return of publicly-created land values.

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With Inky Blots and Rotten Parchment: An Explanation of the Land Value Tax

With Inky Blots and Rotten Parchment: An Explanation of the Land Value Tax

A new book on Land Value Taxation has been published by Ian Hopton from the United Kingdom. Here is a description, review and author’s bio. The book may be purchased on Amazon at: https://tinyurl.com/mpf9rcrr

I believe that in the near future, the issue of taxation will become more widely discussed at all levels of government and this will include the possibility of a land value tax (LVT). At the same time, the majority of ordinary taxpayers, who may be otherwise very well informed, have probably never heard of it.

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Internal Colonialism, Land Maps and Land Value Taxation

Internal Colonialism, Land Maps and Land Value Taxation

In the video titled Internal Colonialism, Land Maps and Land Value Taxation Joshua Vincent, Director of the Center for the Study of Economics, presents land value maps of the City of Baltimore to an executive meeting of the International Union for Land Value Taxation attended by people from Ireland, UK, Germany, India, the Philippines, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Canada, Australia and the US. The presentation impressed everyone with the power and potential of  information technology to build movements for what I call “earth rights democracy” – a new form of democracy based on the equal right by birth to the earth’s land and natural resources. Land mapping gives exact and specific details of how land rent – the unearned income from land – currently flows out of low-income and impoverished areas where much of the land is owned by absentees and speculators and into the pockets of those who live in high income areas and to private corporations.  

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Land value taxes could cut homeowners’ costs. Why haven’t Virginia localities enacted them?

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to implementing land value taxes is making such wonky proposals digestible to the average voter.

Republicans rarely encounter a tax cut they don’t like. But this year, a bill which could have lowered homeowners’ property taxes in one locality was killed on a party-line vote. HB 2112 from Del. Sally Hudson, D-Charlottesville would have enabled the city to become only the fifth locality in Virginia to progress from a reliance on property taxes towards a land value tax.

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REVIEW OF THE BOOK:Land & Liberty: Henry George and the Crafting of Modern Liberalism. By Christopher William England (2023 / Johns Hopkins University Press)

REVIEW OF THE BOOK:Land & Liberty: Henry George and the Crafting of Modern Liberalism. By Christopher William England (2023 / Johns Hopkins University Press)

What follows is less a review of Christopher England’s book than what I find to be some of the more important factual information he provides to readers. As someone who has written similarly and
for almost fifty years lectured on Henry George’s life, his system of political economy and about many of those who fought with him (and against him) in the campaign for social and economic justice, this book covered very familiar territory. And yet, there were important surprises provided by the author’s in-depth research.

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RSF/Resource Justice event

RSF/Resource Justice event

You're invited to join a FREE webinar hosted by our research program, Resource Justice; "Driving the Shift: Tax activism and the move to Land Value Tax," on Tuesday, May 16th at...

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Indigenous Land Tax

Indigenous Land Tax

The Indianapolis minor league baseball team is known as the Indians and will begin each of its home games with a similar statement. The team also has a partnership with an Indiana Tribe to private financial assistance to them.

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What Georgism Is Not

What Georgism Is Not

This publication has devoted significant space to explicating the ideas of Georgism as they apply to the modern world. However, some confusions still exist about the essential nature of the Georgist program. In order to provide additional clarity as to what Georgism is, we find it imperative to correct several common errors, and state definitively what Georgism is not.

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Land Value Taxation: A New Tool In Buffalo’s Toolbox?

Land Value Taxation: A New Tool In Buffalo’s Toolbox?

The city of Buffalo is rich in resources and potential. But the city works only for a few. However, when it comes to economic renewal, it’s time to tap into those resources and, at the same time, reject the culture of subsidies and giveaways to “encourage” construction. Instead, a city should be rebuilt with a sense of purpose that includes all citizens. The city can thrive equitably without the 485-A programs or the Buffalo Billion.
The Fruit Belt Community Land Trust, blazes a humane and practical path that the city can emulate. Much like a CLT, Buffalo could look to the land as a resource for the city’s recovery and revitalization.

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Member of California Assembly introduces LVT study legislation

Member of California Assembly introduces LVT study legislation

We are excited to announce that Assemblymember Alex Lee (D-San José) has recently introduced legislation to study the potential shift from antiquated property tax to land value taxation in California.

Land value taxation is a system where taxes are levied based on the value of land, rather than the value of buildings or improvements on the land. This system has been successful in cities around the world and has been shown to encourage economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve public services.

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My Interview with Henry George (sort of)

My Interview with Henry George (sort of)

Fans of Henry George will be happy to know that the virtual Henry George is as sure and confident in his answers as the human version was.
I couldn’t capture the voice option here (to my knowledge, there are no recordings of George actually speaking), but you can judge for yourself how close to human Henry George was in the text answers below:

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Our Warm Future

Our Warm Future

Georgism is named for Henry George who was a newspaper editor in San Francisco in the 1870s and wondered how can California be so rich and yet have so many poor people? Why is wealth being concentrated in so few? George came to realize that land owners had a monopoly: they owned land and the poor stayed poor because they had to rent from the land owners. And since there is a limited supply of land, the price of land rises and the land owners get rich. George published his ideas in a top selling book “Progress and Poverty”, ran for President and died in New York in 1897.

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Save the World with Nuclear Power, LVT and UBI

Save the World with Nuclear Power, LVT and UBI

Like many others, I feel that some sort of economic and/or ecological collapse is coming. What will it be like?  What would we have to do to avoid it it?  I’ve tried to imagine ways we might avoid or at least, mitigate it.

This is the biggest problem we’ve ever faced: climate change and a transition away from fossil fuels. James Hansen has proposed two solutions: 1) zero-carbon nuclear energy and 2) a carbon tax with citizen’s dividend.  The carbon tax will use market forces to promote a multitude of actions to reduce emissions and find alternatives.  The citizen’s dividend will return the tax money directly to the people who are affected by the tax

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Let’s advance Georgism with these 3 action tasks

Let’s advance Georgism with these 3 action tasks

How can the ideas of Georgism — specifically the beneficial application of Land Value Tax — be promoted successfully?

In my previous essay “13 strategies to advance Georgism” I listed a “baker’s dozen” ideas obtained primarily from reddit/r/georgism advisors. All the plans are excellent, but the total is too large — moving forward efficiently requires prioritizing the multiple schemes.

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12 Strategies to advance Georgism

12 Strategies to advance Georgism

The economic reforms Henry George popularized in the late 1800’s, known as “Georgism,” are enjoying an upsurge of interest, exhibited in a proliferation of both online groups (Facebook, Reddit) and on-the-ground schools, non-profits, and think tanks, like the Geo-Tinyism Institute.

How can Georgists insert his progressive ideas into the real world, sliding them past the multimillionaire landlords and bankers that halted Georgism 100+ years ago?

Below are 12 strategies that can and do work.

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Suburbia is Subsidized

Suburbia is Subsidized

America, and to a lesser extent, Canada, made an historic mistake of relying on cars and not people that is now bankrupting cities all over the country. It’s an insidious, rarely acknowledged choice, and so pervasive that it’s not obvious until you really look at the data. Unmentioned in the video, but a partial solution, would be congestion taxation. This would discourage driving, provide funding for mass transit, and allow taxes of productive activities like work to be decreased. It could begin to reverse the car-dependent culture that is sapping the national account and dividing and polarizing broken communities all over the country, a political win for the nation as well as an economic one.

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WHO’S GETTING WALKED OVER?

Willamette Week carried Sofie Peel’s story in the October 26 issue about the reaction of Montavilla neighborhood residents to a city proposal to repair long-neglected unimproved streets on 89th Avenue.  Portland City Council is refocusing its infrastructure projects on one of the most overlooked parts of town – East Portland. 

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Is Land Value Taxation even more Powerful a cure than Even Georgists Believe?

This article in The City: https://www.thecity.nyc/housing/2022/10/20/23413894/vacant-rent-stabilized-apartments-nyc, plus a previous one on the same issue of Affordable Housing just the day before, made me think that the way to cut through the morass of regulations, incentives and political factions, might be just to ignore many of them and just to implement Land Value Taxation broadly.

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Land Value Capture, Explained

Land Value Capture, Explained

What is “land value capture”? How does it work? And why have so many communities across the world applied this financial approach? This video explains land value capture and provides examples from within the “toolbox” of instruments available to governments. It shows how communities have used land value capture to promote social equity and finance affordable housing, infrastructure, and other public goods.

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Tax Induced Opportunities for Expanding Community Land Trust Housing in Portland, Oregon

Tax Induced Opportunities for Expanding Community Land Trust Housing in Portland, Oregon

For several years property tax reformers have been calling for a land value tax (LVT) to counteract rapidly rising home prices.  A property tax system that raises the tax rate on land and lowers the rate on structures dampens the upward pressure on lot prices, encourages owners of high value sites to put idle land into productive use, and to build more intensively.

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The Ownership Society

The Ownership Society

Originally published on The Rochester Development Blog, a blog about, you guessed it, development in Rochester, authored by Joseph Moore, a member of Common Ground – New York. Follow them on Twitter @CommonGroundNY

I’m just going to start this one by saying that people roping off a section of the natural world and calling it “theirs”, aka land ownership, on a society wide basis has proven to be, well, bad.

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Should Sales Tax Fund Schools in Virginia?

Senate Bill 472, which allows any Virginia locality to raise its sales tax 1% to fund school construction projects, passed the Senate with a 28-12 vote. This does away with the previous practice of the assembly passing sales tax increases in a piecemeal fashion. However, the sales tax itself is possibly one of the worst tools to use to fund our schools.

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The True Cause of Insufficient Housing

These comments are from someone looking for a political party to
vote for! Although I have voted for all major parties, I have favoured the Green Party in recent years. I believe in economic and social justice as displayed by party policy, local candidate and the
leader in that order.

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