Vermont Report Includes Single Tax on Land

Nadine Stoner

[Reprinted from GroundSwell, May-June 2009]

A report, "Valuing Common Assets for Public Finance in Vermont," was released in November 2008. The Vermont Green Tax and Common Assets Project, Burlington, VT, is the project of the MPA Program and Gund Institute of the University of Vermont. Gary Flomenhoft is the Director. The purpose of the project is "achieving environmental sustainability, distributional equity, and an efficient economy through the use of market mechanisms like green taxes and common asset payments."

The collected papers were written by the University of Vermont Public Administration #395 class. The Schalkenbach Foundation was among the project sponsors.

Among the revenue sources examined were curbing transportation emissions, wildlife and fish, forests, ground water extraction, internet access, broadcast spectrum management, stones and minerals, surface water, a single tax on land, and economic rent in the wind industry.

The 2-page article on "Potential Revenue Collection Through a Single Tax on Land" assumes revenue neutrality. Listing first the French Physiocrats, David Ricardo, and Thomas Paine, Henry George's Progress & Poverty is then citied, "which explored the phenomenon of land speculators driving up prices based on the productivity of labor, enabling them to absorb all economic rent. This led George to believe land must be treated as a common asset; rent could be collected through nationalization and leasing, or through a single tax on land itself." The article, concludes "collecting economic rent from land is a perfectly viable way to fund most, if not all, state obligations."

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