Doctor Herbert Barry, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, is always looking for a better way. Joining thinkers like Joseph Stiglitz and James Galbraith, here is a recent submission by Doctor Barry into the marketplace of ideas, from the Pittsburgh post-Gazette:
Friday, March 27, 2015
Unimproved land tax
A March 19 article described a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to increase revenues for the Pennsylvania government to support early education (“Wolf: Billions in Revenue From Proposed Sales Tax”). I agree with the need but I disagree with the proposed sources of the revenues.
State taxes on sales are already too high. They increase the cost for buyers and decrease the profit for sellers. Also, the sellers thereby need to boost the prices. State taxes on personal income detract from the desirable and needed behavior of earning money.
A preferable source of additional state revenues would be a small tax on owners of unimproved land. In several Pennsylvania cities, the tax rate is much higher on unimproved land than on houses, stores, factories, and other improvements. Most owners of valuable or extensive land are wealthy.
Other preferable sources of increased state revenues would be a small tax on inheritance and on capital gains. Most recipients of large inheritances and capital gains are wealthy.
An advantage of my alternative sources of tax revenues for
Pennsylvania would be to decrease the excessive proportion of national wealth owned by the 1%, the richest Americans. This benefit could and should be applied to the tax revenues for all levels of government.
HERBERT BARRY III