Shepheard-Walwyn

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South Africa belongs to all who live in it

There is no excuse for this failure. As the authors of the recently published book Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs note, until 2004 most of the municipalities raised revenue by a direct charge on the imputed rent of land. This model, if generalised by central government, would have made it possible to abolish the treadmill taxes that deprive people of jobs and the decent living standards that they would otherwise provide for themselves.

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Is a better tax system possible?

This question was posed in a review of Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs in Moneyweb, on a Johannesburg-based website. The reviewer, Ciaran Ryan, acknowledges the difficulty: ‘There is so much invested in the current tax system that it is hard to imagine an alternative. The cost of administering SA revenue systems is about R10 billion a year, and there are an estimated 2 000 registered tax professionals lumping another R1 billion on top of that as fees. A far greater cost is the combined hours and expense incurred by companies, executives, lawyers and the courts dealing with tax matters. That’s a stubborn oak to cut down.’

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The housing crisis and land development

In his recent article “How to Fix the Housing Crisis” in Prospect Magazine, Andrew Adonis argues that the public sector must use its underdeveloped land to provide new housing which is badly needed. He concludes his article: “It is bold state action—central and local government leading development in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, not abdicating its responsibilities to them—which will resolve the housing crisis. With its vast ownership of land, and its powers to plan, develop and finance, government can get the job done, and it has no one else to blame for inaction. It’s simple, really.”

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Is economic rent sufficient to fund a modern state?

Just how substantial that is, is indicated by the fact that the Hong Kong government is able to fund major infrastructure projects, such as its underground railway and new airport, and education (free from 6-16, with subsidies for Nursery Schools, and higher education through a system of loans/grants for those who cannot afford it) without incurring the high levels of debt burdening most modern economies.

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The case for taxing land

The case for taxing land has been raised in a number of articles recently. For example, The Economist leader (4th April) argued that ‘governments should impose higher taxes on the value of land’, pointing out that ‘land taxes are efficient’ and ‘difficult to dodge’. It also noted the important distinction between property taxes, such as the Council Tax, which values the building and the land on which it stands, whereas a land-value tax values the land only. The former discourages investment because it would push up the tax payable. A land-value tax does not have that negative effect, on the contrary a land-value tax ‘creates an incentive to develop unused sites’. A land-value tax is also a means of automatically recovering for the public purse expenditure on infrastructure through the uplift in land values consequent upon the investment.

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Land Reform through Taxation in South Africa

Further Reading: Our Land, Our Rent, Our Jobs by Stephen Meintjes and Michael Jacques “How do 52 million South Africans share equitably in their 122 million hectares, especially when those hectares vary so enormously in value?” asks the Johannesburg Star. The danger...

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Rethinking Economics

Shepheard-Walwyn will be participating in the Book Fair at the annual Rethinking Economics Conference at Greenwich University in London on the 27th-28th of June. This is the third annual conference that aims to inspire people to rethink the future of economics in...

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Missing the Land

Further Reading: The Corruption of Economics by Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison Progress and Poverty by Henry George A New Model of the Economy by Brian Hodgkinson The Science of Economics by Raymond Makewell Public Revenue Without Taxation by Ronald Burgess A recent...

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Land speculation causes depression?

Further Reading: The Power in the Land by Fred Harrison Boom Bust by Fred Harrison The Secret Life of Real Estate and Banking by Philip J Anderson It was a pleasant surprise to find the first title in our Ethical Economics list being praised in a newspaper article in...

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Church Times 100 Best Christian Books

Further Reading: Christianity & Social Order by William Temple Imputed Rights by Robert V. Andelson The Church Times in London have made a selection of the 100 Best Christian Books. The editor writes: ‘Human progress involves assimilating the wisdom of past...

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Further thoughts on Tax Reform

Further Reading: The People's Budget by Geoffrey Lee Progress and Poverty by Henry George Ricardo's Law by Fred Harrison Boom Bust by Fred Harrison On 25th September 2014 the Financial Times carried a leader, entitled ‘A British property tax that is fit for purpose’,...

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Tax reform in the air?

Further Reading: Public Revenue Without Taxation by Ronald Burgess Land and Taxation by Nicolaus Tideman On 4th August The Daily Telegraph carried an article by Andrew Sentance, a senior economic adviser to PwC and a former member of the Bank of England Monetary...

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Rethinking Economics

Further Reading: The Corruption of Economics by Mason Gaffney & Fred Harrison The Power in the Land by Fred Harrison Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010 by Fred Harrison A New Model of the Economy by Brian Hodgkinson The Science of Economics by...

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Creating a Legal Duty of Care

Further Reading: Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins Earth is our Business by Polly Higgins In 2010 international environment lawyer and activist Polly Higgins proposed to the United Nations Law Commission that Ecocide be made the fifth Crime Against Peace as a way...

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University economics teaching to be overhauled

Further Reading: The Power in the Land by Fred Harrison Boom Bust: House Prices, Banking and the Depression of 2010 by Fred Harrison A New Model of the Economy by Brian Hodgkinson Ricardo's Law by Fred Harrison This was the headline of a report in the Guardian of a...

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Another Honour for Polly Higgins

Further Reading: Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins Earth is our Business by Polly Higgins In recognition of her work to create a new body of Earth Law, international environmental lawyer and activist, Polly Higgins, has been appointed to the Arne Naess Chair for...

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