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People argue in favour of taxes on earnings and transactions on the basis that cash is changing hands, so that is a good time for the government to take an arbitrary slice. The corresponding argument against LVT (or Council Tax) is that no cash changes hands if somebody is just living in their own home and there is no cash flow for the government to take its share.

That flies in the face of the logic that LVT is actually a user charge for the benefits (net of disadvantages) accruing to each plot of land and collected or enjoyed by the owner (or the bank in the form of mortgage interest). It is no different to any other duty or user charge (such as fuel duty). The argument would not fly if a mortgage borrower told the bank, sorry, my home is not generating any cash for me, so I shouldn’t have to make the mortgage payments. So why should it apply to LVT?

In practical terms and because LVT should be a national tax at a national rate and collected centrally (local taxes tend to be regressive, distortionary and inefficient).

The majority of owner-occupiers have earnings or other taxable income from pensions or investments, so the LVT can be simply collected from salaries at source. PAYE codes would be adjusted and the LVT deducted each month would be shown as a separate deduction on payslips. This is no different to adjusting somebody’s PAYE code to collect the extra income tax due on non-cash benefits in kind (company car, free accommodation, private medical insurance). When LVT starts replacing taxes on output and employment, most people will see their net salaries and disposable income increase quite markedly. The self-employed can pay the LVT in instalments, the same as income tax.

Pensioners with sufficient income would have their LVT deducted at source from their private pensions, the same as for working age households. Clearly, some pensioners own particularly valuable homes; have only very modest income; have no potential heirs prepared to pay the LVT for them; do not wish to trade down; and/or do not want to sublet one or two bedrooms to raise the money to pay the LVT each year. Such households would be allowed to defer and roll up the LVT to be repaid out of the sales proceeds of the home after they die (which is why Inheritance Tax would have to be scrapped or this would be a double-charge on death). A pensioner would have to defer and roll-up for two or three decades before the equity in the home is exhausted, in which case, the remainder of the debt would be written off

A minority of owner-occupiers lose their jobs every year. At any time, approx. 3% of owner-occupiers are short term unemployed (six months or less). If such people are given a time-limited LVT holiday until they find paid work again, this would reduce LVT receipts by less than  2%.

Council tenants currently pay rent and Council Tax to two different departments at their local council. Those who claim Council Tax Benefit or rebates apply to a third department or the DWP. With LVT there would be no need to distinguish between the two and the rent would be inclusive of LVT and the council would pass on the LVT element. Housing Associations and private landlords would pay the LVT out of their rental income.

Remember that good taxation looks at economic substance rather than legal form. What if a landlord (who had been paying the LVT out of rental income) decides to get out of the rental business and sells a home to the sitting tenant? It would be the same person enjoying the same exclusive occupation; all that has happened is that they have swapped cash for bricks and mortar. The new owner pays the LVT on the site premium element and would pay a smaller amount to the former landlord for the actual bricks and mortar. To the outside world, nothing has changed. Why should the tax now fall to £nil merely because of a change in legal form?

Finally, it must be remembered that the only fair and efficient way of dealing with location values is for the value to be paid in cash into a single pot and for the pot to be redistributed or spent on services that benefit everybody as equally as possible. Basic maths tells us that the average household occupying the average plot would pay as much in LVT as it receives in cash or in services, and would thus be effectively occupying land ‘for free’.