From the President

H. James Brown, January 1, 2004

Last October the Lincoln Institute sponsored the fourth annual symposium for recipients of David C. Lincoln Fellowships in Land Value Taxation (LVT). This fellowship program was established to provide funding for in-depth research by scholars and practitioners working on various aspects of the tax and to present a forum for continued learning and sharing among the fellows and Institute faculty.

The fellowship topics include theoretical or basic research as well as research on practical aspects of the administration and implementation of LVT in the U.S. and around the world. This focus on practicality is appropriate since these fellowships are named for David C. Lincoln, the chairman of the Lincoln Foundation and founding chairman of the Lincoln Institute, who has continually challenged the Institute and the fellows to answer such questions as, how can we get LVT put in place and how can we demonstrate the impact?

This year’s symposium presentations reflect the diversity of the work supported by the program. Richard England reported on his efforts to measure the feasibility of getting a two-rate tax adopted in New Hampshire (see page 8 of this newsletter). He developed a model to estimate the number of taxpayers who would gain or lose with various forms of the two-rate tax. His research suggests that to gain support from taxpayers a new two-rate tax needs to be coupled with some kind of tax credit.

David Brunori conducted a national survey of state legislators who sit on finance or tax committees to determine their familiarity with land value or two-rate tax schemes. To his surprise most were familiar with the two-rate tax and believed that a movement to use it would stimulate economic development. Given that favorable view toward LVT, he was hard pressed to explain why so few policy initiatives have moved in this direction.

Other fellows focused on LVT experiences outside the U.S. Frances Plimmer and Greg McGill reported on their updating of the classic case study of property values in the town of Whitstable in the United Kingdom. Riel Franzsen and William McCluskey reported on their cataloging of all of the LVT efforts in 37 of the 54 member states of the British Commonwealth. Yu-Hung Hong described the existing tax structure on property in the People’s Republic of China and suggested alternative schemes for introducing an expanded LVT system as part of the taxation reform presently being considered there.

On a more empirical track, Suzi Kerr reported on efforts to measure the revenue requirements of growing and declining communities in New Zealand, and Courtney Haff reported on econometric efforts to estimate land value in New York City. All of these papers will be available on the Lincoln Institute’s website when they have been completed.

The list of fellows and their research topics for 2003–2004 is shown on pages 16-17 of this newsletter. Again, the diversity of topics reflects the Institute’s continued support for investigations into viable experiments with the LVT and examples of how to measure the impact. I look forward to the results of this work and the discussion at the next symposium.