‘With Inky Blots and Rotten Parchment––An Explanation of the Land Value Tax’

Published in July 2022 and available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon and other worldwide booksellers

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The book is based on the information contained in this website, with a table of contents and an introduction. It is fully referenced and indexed.

The following reviews are based on the pre-publication manuscript:

Review by Chris Waller, Former IT financial systems designer and contributor to ‘Economania’, Mensa’s website for the special interest group dealing with economics, trade and finance

‘As Britain comes within sight of the end of the Covid 19 crisis the most pressing issue in the immediate future will be that of repaying the enormous sums – expected to total somewhere in the region of £500 billion – borrowed to support the economy during over 18 months of restrictions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said that taxes will necessarily rise, much to the chagrin of many in his party.

Ian Hopton’s book is therefore a timely contribution to the vexed question of taxation.

The author begins by reviewing the basic principles of Land Value Taxation (LVT) and then moves on to examine the evolution of economic activity. The history of LVT – for the idea of LVT is by no means new – is then reviewed from its first mention in the 17th century through the 19th century and LVT’s most famous proponent Henry George and on into the 20th century.

In Chapter 5 the author examines the causes of land value and, most importantly to my mind, the ownership of land in the United Kingdom from the Norman invasion and through the Enclosures, the effects of which endure even today. The author establishes both the economic and moral cases for LVT, citing the views of no less than Adam Smith who, we should remember, held the chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University.

Chapter 7 discusses housing, currently the bane of the British economy and a subject which is a frequent topic of conversation of both home-owners and, more pointedly, those aspiring to join their ranks. There is perhaps nothing that excites the passions of the British public so much as house prices.  

In the later chapters, the author examines the practicalities of implementing LVT, with particular reference to the phasing out of such taxes as would be made redundant by its introduction. This is the point at which theory comes into contact with the real world and where pragmatism must take precedence over ideological purity.

The author presents case studies in the appendices which examine the actual implementation and experience of LVT and what might be considered lost opportunities.

For all readers, both those already acquainted with LVT and those new to the subject, there is an extensive bibliography for those who wish to study the subject in greater depth. In summary then this book is an apposite, timely and comprehensive contribution to what will be a critical debate about taxation in the near future’.

Chris Waller, 5th October 2021

Review by Chris Wood of the School of Philosophy and Economic Science, London.   Ist November 2021.

‘This book is well researched and comprehensive and should serve as a very useful primer for those unfamiliar with economics and taxation.  At the same time it could also be read by those who already have a knowledge of land value taxation, since it contains a wealth of information I have not seen assembled elsewhere in one place’.  

Chris Wood, 1st November 2021

Nobel Laureates

1970.  Paul Samuelson

1976.  Milton Friedman

1978.  Herbert Simon

1981.  James Tobin

1985.  Franco Modigliani

1986.  James Buchanan

1987.  Robert Solow

1996.  William Vickrey

1996.  James Mirrlees:  Mirrlees Review, ‘Tax by Design’, p.373

2001.  Joseph Stiglitz

Explanation Part 3


  1.   The Causes of Land Value.
  2.   Ownership of Land
  3.   Resource Rents.
  4.   Industrial Land Values.
  5.   Agricultural Land Values.
  6.   Unimproved Land Values.
  7.   Winners and Losers.
  8.   Getting on the Property Ladder.
  9.   Affordable Housing.
  10.   Land Banking.
  11.   Other Economic Rent Collection Methods.
  12.   Typical Objections.
  13.   Obstacles to Introducing LVT.
  14.   The Single Tax Issue.
  15.   Which Taxes?
  16.   Welfare
  17.   Definitions.
  18.   Quotations.

01. Causes of Land Value

In Part 2 the relationship between land values and location was shown to be fundamental, but within that context it is worth noting how land in general or sites in particular may acquire value.  The primary causes affecting land values are:                                                                                     1.  Natural advantages.     2. Infrastructure.    3. Population Intensity    4. The Planning System     5. Security.

Continue reading

02. Ownership of Land

The exercise of power in economic affairs invariably derives from ownership; whoever owns an enterprise or organisation will decide on the laws and procedures that govern it. Whoever owns the elements of production will set the conditions that lead to that production. This applies particularly to land, which is one of the two original elements of wealth creation, the other being labour.                     Continue reading

03. Resource Rents

Amongst economists it is generally understood that the term ‘land’ includes all natural resources, all gifts of nature, natural forests, wildlife, minerals in the ground, fish in the sea etc.   This definition raises the question of ownership, exploitation rights and also the concept of resource rents.  Justice Cranston’s ruling could apply equally to all natural resources.                              Continue reading

04. Industrial Land Values

In the explanation of Part 2, you may wonder why there is no mention of industrial land.  This is because there is a big distinction to be made between ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ industry.  For the purpose of the Part 2 explanation, light-industrial land comes under the heading of ‘commercial’.  Heavy-industrial land is somewhat anomalous in that, where land values are concerned, it does not follow the same pattern of development as for other forms of economic activity.                                   Continue reading

05. Agricultural Land Values

In the explanation of Part 2, it can be seen that LVT is predominantly an urban rather than a rural tax, in the sense that by far the greater revenue would be derived from the former. Although rural land accounts for about 87% of Britain’s total land area, it represents only about 5% of the total land value.1 This means that rural land would contribute about 5% of the total LVT and urban land about 95%. Continue reading

06. Unimproved Land Values

The term ‘unimproved land value’ is widely employed in much writing on LVT, but can be misleading. What is intended is to make the distinction between a site that has been developed or built upon (improved) and a vacant site where no apparent development has taken place (unimproved).  The problem with this term is that it leaves unresolved various anomalies that might arise when trying to establish the actual meaning of ‘unimproved’ for the purposes of taxation.             Continue reading

07. Winners and Losers

Politicians are always averse to any change in taxation that will create losers who will cost them votes, so they tend to resort to indirect taxes where no obviously disadvantaged group can be identified. Although any change to LVT would create winners and losers, in any part of the economy where land was involved, it is arguably the effect on homeowners that would give politicians most concern.      Continue reading