Taxation in the US (2022): State and local taxation: Land value taxation


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Land value taxation (for example, property tax applied only to the unimproved value of land) has a long history in the United States dating back from Physiocratic influence on Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. It is most famously associated with Henry George and his book Progress and Poverty (1879), which argued that because the supply of land is fixed and its location value is created by communities and public works, the economic rent of land is the most logical source of public revenue. and which had considerable impact on turn-of-the-century reform movements in America and elsewhere. Every single state in the United States has some form of property tax on real estate and hence, in part, a tax on land value. However, Pennsylvania in particular has seen local attempts to rely more heavily on the taxation of land value.


Physiocratic influence in the United States came by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson as Ambassadors to France. Jefferson also brought his friend Pierre du Pont to the United States to promote the idea. A statement in the 36th Federalist Paper reflects that influence, "A small land tax will answer the purpose of the States, and will be their most simple and most fit resource."

Henry George.

Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was perhaps the most famous advocate of land rents. As an American political economist, he advocated for a "Single Tax" on land that would eliminate the need for all other taxes. In 1879 he authored Progress and Poverty, which significantly influenced land taxation in the United States.


There are two potential legal obstacles unique to land value taxation in the United States: uniformity clauses and Dillon's Rule. At the federal level, land value taxation is legal so long as it is apportioned among the states.

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