Incentive Taxation
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Recent Posts

LVT in Los Angeles? Op-Ed says go for it.
Welcome to the Zany World of NYC's Property Tax
Land Value Taxation in Jamaica: Now More Than Ever
Part 1, Land Value Taxation: Politics, Persuasion, and Practicality - A How-To
2016: Another Year of Advances and Retrenchment

Most Popular Posts

Noted UK Think Tank: Tax Land Values
Eliminating the property tax? It must not happen, but we’ll see what happens.
Altoona, PA: City tax wholly on land values = normality
Land Value Tax in Britain: Progress While the Rear Guard Digs In
Dr. Herbert Barry's Proposal to Really Reassess Allegheny County

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Incentive Taxation

Healthy Communities

LVT in Los Angeles? Op-Ed says go for it.


Affordable Land in LA, it's only 40 Miles Away


It’s not often than an op-ed drives UrbanTools jump over a paywall, but the LA Times has done the trick with avery good editorial by three planning professors at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs; a courageous call to sidestep the usually clumsy tactics to provide affordable housing.

In this case, the editorial rightly decries “linkage fees.”Linkage feesalso known as “impact fees” charge developers a set price for anything they build that goes into a fund for affordable housing.

Part 1, Land Value Taxation: Politics, Persuasion, and Practicality - A How-To


An Idea Worth Implementing

Ask nearly any economist. Discover what left and right can agree on. It’s the political and economic philosophy that reconciles and validates the needs of both community and the individual.  What do you have?

Land Value Tax

Land Value Tax; also called site value rating, the single tax, economic rent, incentive taxation, the Smart tax, well you get the point.

It’s a Great Idea, Now What?

One of the most important questions that the Center for the Study of Economics – a.k.

Part 2 - Land Value Taxation: Politics, Persuasion, and Practicality - A How-To

In a recent post,UrbanTools/CSE broke the ice with some short snippets of an interview conducted by Jacob Schwartz Lucas ofEarthsharing.orgthat describe what we believe are critical first steps in discussing land value taxation, how to interest people, how to maintain momentum, and finally how to implement LVT.  Produced by Earthsharing, it links to three distinct avenues to LVT understanding and acceptance.

The question then arises what to do if interest is piqued?

If the reader has time (and no need to watch it all at once), here’s a presentation/discussion that UrbanTools/CSE gave at the invitation of the

Hartford Connecticut Explores Land Value Tax to Battle Parking Lot Blight





















It Used to be a Hilton

Hartford Connecticut while perhaps not the wealthiest city in the US during the Gilded Age, came close to the ideal of the American City and the American Dream: a city where wealth was created, work was plentiful, public amenities dotted the city landscape and optimism never ran dry.  

Now, in the year 2016, the Hartford paradox – one of thenation’s poorest citiessurrounded by the nation’s wealthiest state – is flirting withmunicipal insolvency. It limits the city’s ability to act independently to revive itself.

Taxing Sugar: Noble or Nanny State?


For anybody who doesn't live or work in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, it's nearly impossible to describe the anger and confusion generated by a bitter argument over whether pre-K, rec centers, and public pensions should be paid for by a tax on sugar sweetened soft drinks (SSD if you want to talk the nifty jargonese of academia).  

Philly's Choice: Fund needed programs with Gatorade or land values?











As always, the answer is in the numbers...



It's nowadays accepted that beverages with added sugar are bad. New York City a few years ago had it's own psychodrama on Big Gulps and Frappuccinos, when the unlikely nanny state of Michael Bloomberg tried to impose a tax on sugary drinks as a public health measure. It was eventually defeated in court, but the idea is still very popular by those who have no problem telling other people what to put into their mouths.

Certainly, soda probably not the best thing one could drink.

Pittsburgh: The disappearing Black community and land value














Homewood: A Storied History


In the middle of all the nonstop happy talk about the revitalizing urbanification of older Rust Belt cities likeBuffalo, Cleveland and our old friend Pittsburgh,UrbanTools notes that the benefit falls on a very narrow slice of the body politic: the development "community" and other hustlers who ask that government pays for their slick new condos and apartments for transient Millennials.  Meanwhile, all of these cities are losing population and unemployment rates are still high.

Day In, Day Out: an UrbanTools Diary by CSE


We are happy to present a new integrated diary/blog brought to you by the Center for the Study of Economics, using our street name “UrbanTools.”  That’s where we spend most of our time: traveling, meeting with communities, doing outreach, performing research and overall presenting an alternative way of looking at political economy in the real world.


The best place to start? Most likely CSE’s annual meeting of the Board of Directors[i] on November 19, 2015. With attendees in person at our physical HQ at the friends service Center at 1501 Cherry St.

The US Environmental Protection Agency Recommends LVT in new publication



UrbanTools is pleased to see that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending exploration of land value taxationfor distressed and struggling communities, the number of which are increasing exponentially even after the supposed end of the Great Recession. 

Titled “Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies” and published by the Office of Sustainable Communities Smart Growth Program, the document describes how land value tax works and highlights the fact that Pennsylvania is the leader in the effort (we note modestly).

Land value tax back on front burner: Lancaster Pennsylvania

Revisiting the land value tax in Lancaster


For some years, the visionary Mayor ofLancasterPennsylvaniaRick Gray has worked tirelessly with his team to return one of the oldest and most distinguished of American cities to its rightful place as a muscular economic and cultural hub of Lancaster County and Amish country.

Mayor Rick Gray: I've got an Idea.

Mayor Gray has also been a firm advocate of land value tax, yet peculiar valuations imposed on the city by Lancaster County have been a political barrier.

Frederick Maryland: Finding a Cure for Blight

















Downtown Frederick Maryland: No More Lights Out?





Frederick Magazinehas been around 30 years, covering that beautiful old city in Maryland and the surrounding countryside. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the travel tips, restaurant coverage, and its beautiful visual explorations to visit, live, and work.

The magazine also covers the not so pleasant realities that any city of any size must deal with. People may be surprised that such a lovely city near the center of national wealth in Washington DC also suffers from commercial and residential blight.

Quick movement on LVT Extension Legislation in Connecticut



On February 4, 2015 , just a few days into the Connecticut legislature's 2015 session, the Land Value Tax expansion bill was accepted for action and testimony by a unanimous bipartisan vote of the joint Planning and Development Committee voted in favor this time. This is particularly quick considering past practice.

More evidence confirms the error of stopping land value tax in Pittsburgh

Q. What happens when a city taxes buildings more at the beginning of the greatest building boom in American history?
A. Not much.


One of the best examples of the efficacy of land value tax (LVT) was careful study of the city of Pittsburgh culminating in theOates/Schwab study of Pittsburgh published in 1997which concluded all things being equal land value tax policy had the effect of unleashing construction demand – especially downtown construction –just as the steel industry collapsed, and just as the US entered a significant recessionary period (late 1970s and early 1980s)

Urban Taxation: Deadweight Loss for the Weakest

Wage and Sales Taxes: a Curse on Low Income Citizens and Their Communities

"The middling and superior ranks of people, if they understood their own interest, ought always to oppose all taxes upon the necessaries of life, as well as all direct taxes upon the wages of labour." Adam Smith An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Volume 2, p.289

As many public policy makers know, we've always considered government taxes in a descending order from destructive, to not so good, better and then best.

Property tax caps for user fees; what could be better? Almost anything

Tax Caps and User Fees: Caution Needed

Six Houses all in a row, assessed at the same value of $100,000 at a tax rate of 1%. Taxes still rise, while local government seeks alternative funds in flat fees for services, such as trash pick up.










Regressivity is a more common outcome of user charges than is commonly acknowledged. That ought to change. City services based on value (i.e. a user charge on publicly created land values) can be made more progressive than resorting to invisible charges or flat fees.

Land Value Taxation in Connecticut: UrbanTools' televised interview

Connecticut's Financially Stressed Cities: let's talk about LVT

We believe that a useful way to embrace of further understanding of land value taxation Is to have a conversation. On June 17, 2014, the director of the Center for the Study of Economics Joshua Vincent sat down withRonna Stuller, A long time member of the new London Connecticut Board of Education and activist within the Green Party, Ronna Stands for healthy communities,a fair economy, and more opportunities for citizens In all sectors of society.

The property tax needs respect but repair

The implosion of revenues for local and state governments over the past seven years, and a stalled, weak recovery leaves public discussion on funding the public/civic sector in the tired old debate between tax-and-spend and cut and slash. In weak regional economies and in times of recession, the first tax revenue to slide are income taxes, then sales taxes, then business taxes, and lastly property taxes. Property taxes are built upon a far more stable base than other forms of tax, and they are now understood to be generally progressive in impact.

To Piketty or not to Piketty? Michael Kinsley and the Echoes of Henry George
















Kinsley, Piketty and Henry

Michael Kinsleyhas had a long and distinguished career writing about politics and sometimes economics from the left-center perspective. UrbanTools has noticed that for decades he often prefaces an essay or column with " my favorite economist, the 19th-century AmericanHenry George, and his best-selling book, Progress and Poverty (1879)." Well, we like Henry George too, so it's always nice to see how Kinsley uses Henry George situationally.

Homeownership: Dangling a Contrarian View From a Land Value Tax Perspective

The American Dream: Levittown 1948

UrbanTools (as the outreach arm of the Center for the Study of Economics) has successfully helped communities discover that land value taxation is a fair and equitable way to reduce the tax burden on the poor, the middle class and productive citizens.  

By deploying local LVT, we demonstrate in policy the fact that there is an alternative to tax systems that keep people down in force communities to struggle to pay for the basic bills to keep our local societies going.

Pittsburgh: Land Bank proposal needs an endgame

Aproposed land bankin the city of Pittsburgh has been introduced by councilpersonDeb Gross, and a couldn't come soon enough. Pittsburgh has an oversupply of city-owned blighted buildings and lots that suck up revenue, and produce none for the city. Once the land bank comes into operation, one existential question arises: what is the purpose of a bank?

If we take away the word "land", then we know the purpose of a bank is to dispense of assets in order to create a return for both the bank and – in this case – the community.