INCREMENT DUTY PAYABLE ON MINUS SITE VALUES.
[To Ms EDITOR OF THE " SPECTAT011:1 fail to see anything inequitable in a proprietor being compelled to pay increment duty on his minus site value, provided there has been a real increase in the assessable site value shown by the sale or bequest. I frankly admit that there may be a very great hardship to individuals, but legisla- tion cannot be held responsible for fluctuations in the property market ; such risks are properly risks of the persons who make the bargains. In the George Herbert case the difference between the feu-duty and ground burdens and the assessable site value was no less a sum than £545. This reveals one thing only : George Herbert paid a very high speculative price for the site; but surely Mr. Peto does not imagine that Acts of Parliament can be constructed to guard against individual folly in bargaining P In my opinion, in almost every case where a minus value is shown it simply means that the price paid was just the amount of the minus figure in excess of the normal price that would have yielded a steady return on the invested capital. There may be cases where the diminution in value can be traced to other economic causes, such as the opening of tramway lines and suchlike under- takings, but these are a small proportion of the total number of minus site values the valuation has revealed.—I am, [Granted our correspondent's premises, why does he apply them only to land ? Why not to increments in stocks and shares, in pictures, furniture, and other movable objects ED. Spectator.]