Booklets by Henry George
The Single Tax: What it is and Why we urge it.
The proposal is to abolish all taxes except for a single tax on the value of land
(also user fees, pollution charges).
We already tax real estate, so to implement it we need only to abolish all other taxes
and exempt buildings and other improvements from taxation.
The benefits: no excess burden, no double payments, higher wages.
It would dispense with a whole army of tax gatherers and other officials.
It would enormously increase the production of wealth:
by the removal of burdens on industry and thrift.
It will equalize the distribution of wealth.
On the moral side: taxes on wages violate self-ownership.
To the creator belongs the creation.
This requires individual possession of land.
But the rent can be shared.
Land has no cost of production.
The value rises with the improvement of the community.
On earth, as it is in heaven!
The Land for the People
Land and labor are the two ultimate and necessary factors of production.
Where do righs of ownership come from?
It comes from the right of the producer to the things he produces.
Hence, Thou shalt not steal.
But who should own that which no human being created?
Human equality implies that the benefits of nature should be shared.
The benefits are measured by the rent.
Why the Landowners Cannot Shift the Tax on Land Values
The tax does not fall on the user,
and cannot be passed on to a tenant.
The rent is a surplus beyond the costs needed for production.
There is therefore no disincentive when the rent is taxed.
It does not diminish the land or rent.
If the tax could be passed on, this implies that landlords could raise the rent whenever they wanted to.
A tax on land value would actually lower rent, because it would release land that was underused.