RENT, RATES AND TAXES
[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]
SIR,—With the exception of land used in production of food- stuffs, all occupied land situated in this country is assessed for rates and taxes at the estimated value of its occupation. On the other hand, all, land left lying waste is exempt from assessment eicept only for stamp .duty, when it changes ownership. Unoccupied land contributes not one penny to the cost of social services.
Without regard to the value of the land they disfigure, mean buildings, advertisement hoardings, and refuse tips are assessed on the income they yield. Under these conditions, much land is kept unoccupied for its selling price " to ripen." Reflection makes it clear that every plot of land withheld from occupation inflates, not only the price of all other land possessed of similar adVantages, but also the rates and taxes levied on the occupation and improvement of property.. It is eqUally clear that, the total of these charges is in the long run subtracted from the earnings of man's productive activities. At the present time, numbers of producers and shopkeepers are compelled to pay more than half their earnings for rent, rates and taxes. In addition to these direct overhead charges, they have to proVide for the incidence of heavy indirect taxation.
Were all property assessed on its land value instead of on its occupation, much land would come on to the open market, and land rents, rates and taxes would be materially reduced. I suggest that apart from the adoption of this long over-due measure of reform there can be no permanent stability in our national economy.—Yours truly, GEORGE ALFRED GOODWIN.