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Dec 7, 2023Liked by Common Ground Aotearoa

There's a really key message that you articulated well in the Better Things Are Possible podcast: with rates we shouldn't be trying to proxy a system of user charging, but rather trying to devise an efficient and equitable tax.

Differential rating is always justified as a proxy user charge: "multi unit housing uses more water/roads/etc per $ of land value so we should charge them more since they benefit more from council services".

It takes a broader view of benefit to escape that mindset. Benefits aren't received by the occupant of land, but by the owner of land, and there's a precise monetary quantity that measures them: the land value. Land value measures the net benefit of occupancy at the optimal built form less the costs of developing that form.

So land value is ALREADY a clean expression of the benefit derived by the site owners from the various services provided by local (and regional and national) governments, as well as by the actions of all of the rest of us.

This point - Councils shouldn't be trying to use a blunt rates tool as proxy for complete user-pays pricing of council services - is one we really need to hammer home.

That's the equity case for land value taxation (including land value rating). The efficiency case - more housing supply - is one you've made well and most people now appreciate.

Your podcast expression of that point was on point; good work.

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