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Taking Mirlees forward

The leading tax experts who conducted the Mirrlees Review came to the conclusion that Land Value Taxation is such a powerful idea, and one that has been so comprehensively ignored by governments, that the case for a thorough official effort to design a workable solution seems to be overwhelming. In particular, the report noted, significant adjustment costs would be merited if the inefficient and iniquitous system of business rates could be swept away and replaced by an LVT (James Mirrlees et al 2011, p. 377).

Taking his cue from this Henry George Society of Devon member Julian Pratt has written a paper for the consideration of Treasury which sets out the case for the replacement of Business Rates with revenue raising based on Land Value. A two-stage switch over is advocated which would result in huge benefits including:

  • A more than £3 billion per year stimulus to the economy
  • The counteraction of the boom and bust in non-domestic land thus reducing the consequent risk to the banking system
  • Increased business profitability and international competitiveness
  • Regeneration of under-developed areas
  • Self-funding infrastructure
  • Reduced tax avoidance and evasion
  • A more optimal use of land

The paper calls on Treasury to carry out a feasibility study to further explore mechanisms for valuation, revaluation, transition and piloting. The paper can be accessed here: Business rates reform proposal. We congratulate the author on this contribution, but like all its predecessors, it will most certainly fall on deaf ears. The effort is, however, worthwhile, as its presence in an archive will ensure that sooner or later someone will discover the willful negligence which has contributed so much to the country’s economic and social problems.