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.
Beloved by economists and Georgists, land value taxes in their purest form assess how much property owners pay based on the “unimproved” value of their land rather than the value of what, if anything, is built upon it. While our current tax system punishes property owners for putting their parcels to higher use and disincentivizes development, a land value tax is designed to encourage growth in city centers while lowering the tax burden on the average homeowner.
If land value taxes are a practical, pro-growth policy, then why hasn’t a single Virginia locality made the switch?