May. 10th, 2017

To continue with the book launch for RENT UNMASKED: Essays in Honor of Mason Gaffney, Ted Gwartney spoke of how he became a Georgist. Gwartney's "Assessing Public Values" is Chapter Seven in the book, and according to Chapter Six, by Fred Harrison, it would be a $14 trillion boost if governments practiced land value taxation.

In 1960, House and Home had Mason Gaffney as a guest editor. This led to Ted Gwartney's career as a real estate appraiser and then assessor; he could make a career out of doing good. Gaffney believes, if I understand correctly, in ATCOR -- All Taxes Come Out of Rent.

Then Gwartney spoke about what he learned as an assessor: Land is usually underassessed. Reassessment can be done annually. Assess at the selling price. Show land and building values separately.

In 2011, there was an initiative in California to replace Proposition Thirteen, and abolish sales and income taxes. Ted Gaffney analyzed it, using Board of Equalization figures, and making estimates. He figured that real estate values in California are about 50% land, 50% buildings. A 75% tax on land values would raise $159 billion; current state and local revenues in California were lower than that, $139 billion.

Unfortunately, they needed $7 million to gather signatures, etc., so the initiative was not placed in the ballot.

British Columbia was a success story. Ted Gwartney led a reassessment, made assessments uniform, and created a province-wide Assessment Authority. In forty-one years, total property values rose by a factor of 29, and land values went up by a factor of 37.

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