Stephan Kinsella on lower taxes

In the midst of a long comment thread over at Libertarian Alliance on the subject of a ‘land value tax’ and why, or not, libertarians should, or should not support it, Stephan Kinsella hits the nail on the head:

The Lower Tax

The only tax plan anyone should trust is the most simple possible: the one that proposes to lower existing taxes. I really must say this again because it is the most important single point you can remember when evaluating whether to support a tax reform or not: the only trustworthy plan is that one that proposes a lowering or elimination of an existing tax, period. That is the bare minimum. An ideal reform would also propose equivalent spending cuts. In fact, in the most strict sense, there can be no tax cut without spending cuts since we must all pay, one way or another, for the burden of government as measured by spending. But we must leave that aside for now.


  1. LVT (Land Value Tax) is an abomination.

    There is a very good document below advocating it. Seems well thought out until you question it further.

    Click to access land_value_for_public_benefit.pdf

    Having read the entire document her are a few observations
    1) The basis of land value tax is that the increase in land value comes from the government and not those working the land. Even in an area where there is no Government infrastructure.
    2) Since its O.k to tax land as the increases are unearned, this concept can be applied to celebrities and sports stars as they earn “unearned income” after those people are taxed for unearned income, who will be next?
    3)The land value tax is supposed to replace other taxes, but we know it never will.
    4) The government will not compensate current owners for the loss in land value due to the tax.

    Keeping it short, some more observations are listed here:



  2. LVT is more efficient, uncontroversial, therefore lower the tax burden, logic.

    If you don’t agree with this then you must love bigger government and higher taxes.



  3. Item 2 by own yourself is incorrect. Georgists would tend to oppose tax on sports professionals. For that reason they are called ‘single taxers’ ie land only. It is royal libertarians who would prefer to tax sportsmen (if the alternative was a land tax).



  4. Ed,

    I made no mention of Georgists, they are not the only ones who advocate LVT. Prefer to stick to LVT in general not one well known strand of it.

    1) The document in my initial comment here actually mentions footballers as having extra tax using the principles of LVT. (page 28)

    “For example,a progressive income tax in a highly unequal society such as Britain’s helps
    the tax burden to fall more heavily on those who can afford to pay.Once society became
    less unequal,income tax would become less important in this respect.It is therefore
    proposed that income tax should be gradually phased out as LVT was extended.
    The only exception would be tax on very high incomes – such as the earnings of
    footballers, pop stars, actors, opera singers, high court judges, and top managers, whose
    situation is analogous to land in that their skills are practically unique, yet are in high
    demand. Supply, therefore, cannot be increased in line with demand. In other words, a
    large part of the value of their skills, which is reflected in their high earnings, is created
    by society, so that it is only fair that society should get back a proportion of that value in
    the form of tax. It is therefore proposed that income tax – perhaps re-named surtax –
    be retained for very high incomes, and at a higher rate than now, especially as the tax
    would carry no deadweight loss”

    The person wrote this more than likely calls them-self a Georgist.

    2) Georgists are like Libertarians, no two will agree on everything. Some will promote taxing sports people and other high earners.

    3) Georgists are like libertarians, not many of them. if LVT ever gets implemented there will have to be concessions, it is unlikely to look like the “Georgist” version.

    I think the approach is 100% the wrong way around. The focus should be to cut spending not look at new taxes.



  5. Regarding your statement

    The person wrote this more than likely calls them-self a Georgist.

    Where is the evidence for this ? It seems a most unlikely claim since Jerry Jones writes for the Morning Star and the Communist Party of Great Britain

    The libertarians supporting land tax are Geolibertarians i.e. Georgist libertarians. When looking at whether libertarians should support land tax it is unhelpful to use a communist version as the model as libertarians would not support that model. As far as I am aware, and you too I suggest, no Georgist libertarian (therefore no libertarian who supports land tax) would advocate taxing the income of sports stars on the basis that it is unearned. Point 2 from your list is not relevant to a discussion between libertarians.



  6. I think Ed is correct on this one. The point Georgists make is that land is different from everything else, therefore they will refute comparisons made with reference to anything else, such as taxing away the differential between the lowest-paid footballer and Man City’s star striker.

    My problem with the whole Georgist thing is that it is based, afaics, on bad economics inherited from Ricardo, which have been refuted. In this respect, they have something in common with Marxists – although, it must be said, without the legacy of mass murder.



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