Achieving Environmental Sustainability through Fiscal Policy
Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation series
Edited by Larry Kreiser, Julsuchada Sirisom, Hope Ashiabor and Janet E. Milne
Chapter 7: Taxing Land Rents for Urban Livability and Sustainability
H. William Batt INTRODUCTION In most cities of the world today ambience and livability are plagued with two problems: trafﬁc congestion and sprawl development. Yet public bodies seem at a loss in solving them, even though at least from a technical point of view they are demonstrably solvable. Governments have at their command two means by which to address them – two arrows in their quiver, so to speak: constitutionally known as police powers and tax powers.1 More commonly referred to as command-and-control approaches and ﬁscal approaches, they are the only legitimate tools that the public has at its disposal. All this must be borne in mind when designers of government policy consider the efﬁcacy of public programs, particularly with reference to their scope, domain, and weight. Scope involves all those matters or interests in which government concerns itself; the domain is the area or number of people over which it has exercise; and the weight, or intensity, is the degree to which a people or an area feels itself imposed upon, heavily or only lightly. If a government in some way over-extends itself, or imposes itself too much upon people, it will prove to be ineffectual, illegitimate, and have a difﬁcult time maintaining itself. One can ﬁnd instances in all governments where what limited police powers available are squandered, and where laws are ﬂouted or circumvented. It is even more the case for taxing powers, where estimates are that as many as half the population believes it...
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