Steve posted a few weeks ago on Land Value Tax – saying it’s ground we shouldn’t let the Lib Dems capture.
It’s now ground that we shouldn’t let the Tories capture.
In addition to Lib Dem support for greater property/land tax, Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home as well as Tory MP, Mark Reckless have come out in favour of such a tax, arguing for a move to tax wealth rather than income.
Admittedly, Secretary of State Eric Pickles has come out very firmly against, as a standard bearer of the Tory right would.
Then again, the Tory right also hate the 50p tax rate and if this is the lever to get the Lib Dems to back its abolition, they may just put up with the introduction of a new tax. Indeed, Tim Montgomerie is not known for being on the left of the Tory party and this is clearly the calculation he is making.
There are some things Tories can do easier than the Labour Party: can you imagine the onslaught Labour would face, in government or in opposition, if we proposed the introduction of a new tax? But since it’s the Tories who’ve let this particular genie out of the bottle, we should seize it.
There is a perfectly good social democratic argument for a Land Value Tax – in taxation and housing terms. Check out Toby Lloyd’s evergreen ‘Don’t Bet the House on It’ for some of the housing reasons.
The taxation case is simpler – It raises money by taxing the unproductive and in many cases unearned wealth of the rich, rather than doing so from the income earned from everyone’s productive activities. That’s hard to argue with.
And we can outflank coalition in a way that will chime better with the mood of the nation and support people far more deserving than those paying the 50p tax rate: the revenues could be used to support first-time buyers, invest in more genuinely affordable social housing or maintain a comprehensive housing benefit safety net.
Or since I’d like to see Labour trusted on taxation and not face an onslaught if we were to propose tax reform: tax cuts for lower and middle earners whose standards of living are being squeezed ever tighter.