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September 01, 2011


Dick Pountain

I wonder how effective a swingeing tax on buy-to-let dwellings would be? Obviously it would be pretty effective at losing you the next election...


Obviously it would be pretty effective at losing you the next election...

I absolutely agree and it is obvious to me would be electoral suicide - but I can't actually explain why.

The number of discontented private tenants must exceed the number of buy to let landlords, so why is the electoral arithmetic stacked against the policy in a situation where we don't have a property owning qualification to vote? Any ideas?

Will Davies

Land taxes and estate taxes seem to be all the rage at the moment, though lets see who has the guts to go for it. Gordon Brown's pathetic capitulation over inheritance tax in 2007 wasn't a great precedent. And Gordon Brown's slashing of capital gains tax wasn't very clever either, which played straight into the hands of the asset speculators. So thank Gord.

If landlords were regulated as on the continent, such that rent was not set by the market, you'd probably see millions of cheap trendy condo flats suddenly appear on the market...

Dick Pountain

> If landlords were regulated as on the continent

Indeed so, but that would mean reforming the national psyche so that houses reverted to mere dwellings, and ceased to be speculative ventures. It constantly astonishes me the way the media uncritically applaud every rise in house prices, and wring hands at every fall.


Land taxes are tricky because we don't have any real tradition of land taxation and no real infrastructure to provide the necessary land valuations. We haven't revalued council tax for 20 years. From what I know of Lib Dem politics, the "mansion tax" was intended as a thin end of the wedge for land value tax, establishing the principle of property taxes and the mechanisms for putting a value on a property. Notably, this failed to be adopted as coalition policy, although I note with some surprise that one of the loudest recent calls for land taxation came from Tim Montgomerie, self-appointed spokesman of the mainstream Tory right (if such a thing exists, which might explain why he's not being listened to).

Adam Smith Fan

You may not have a tradition of land taxation but we do. In fact during the late 17th and 18th century they were the main taxes. Napoleon was defeated by a British Army and Navy paid for by Land taxes.

It was only during the 19th century that income tax was introduced and slowly replaced land taxation. To Britain's great disadvantage. For as the proportion of taxation changed from mostly land-based revenue to mostly income-based revenue through the 19th century we gradually lost our international industrial competitiveness.

If Britain were to phase out the income tax and return to our traditional land taxation system, we might well recover our traditional greatness. And if we were also to introduce a citizens dividend we would avoid the poverty which so blighted Victoria's reign.

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