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Economists know that the optimum conditions for private enterprise are achieved when taxes on the earned incomes of labour and capital are reduced to zero but, because neoclassical economic theory insists on treating land as capital, they dismiss the obvious alternative to taxing labour and capital – the unearned income from land.

Prof. Mason Gaffney explains the importance of recognising land as a distinctive factor of production and the consequences of its uniqueness for economic policy, for example, that income from land is subject to market forces quite different from those that determine return on capital. Prof. Tideman brings together the classical literature on land taxation to explain the argument that such taxation is an economically efficient and ethical revenue source.

The authors argue that reform of the structure of public finance would make it possible to restore full employment without causing inflation and to reduce the overall tax burden.


Author Details
Nicolaus Tideman received his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He was Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University (1969-73) and then Senior Staff Economist at the President’s Council of Economic Advisors (1970-71), before moving to Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, as Professor of Economics.

Mason Gaffney received his doctorate from the University of California (Berkeley). He was Professor of Economics, University of California, Riverside (1976-2013). He is  the author of an extensive list of studies on urban economics and public finance and several books, most recently The Mason Gaffney Reader: Essays on Solving the “Unsolvable”.

Fred Harrison read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, and received his MSc from the University of London. In The Power in the Land (1983) he correctly predicted the global recession of 1991 and in Boom Bust that of 2009. He is Director at the Land Research Trust. During the 1990s he was an advisor to Russian municipal governments and federal agencies on property and taxation reforms. For more information visit Fred’s author page.

Fred Foldvary, PhD received his BA in Economics from the University of of California (Berkeley) and his PhD from George Mason University. He has taught Economics in Latvia and the United States, and is author of The Soul of Liberty and Public Goods and Private Communities (1994).

V. H. Blundell was Principal of the ESSRA School of Economic Studies in London for 25 years. He was Editor of Land and Liberty, the bi-monthly journal specialising in the economics and politics of land, and is author of False Paths to Higher Wages (1975).


“There is a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise – yet we need taxes … so the question is which are the least bad taxes? In my opinion, the least bad tax [note switch to singular] is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.”
Milton Friedman

“Tax economists overwhelmingly support the idea that a tax on land represents an excellent source for government revenue.”

A former economist at the U.S. President’s Council of Economics Advisers, Professor Tideman, assembles arguments supporting Henry George’s thesis.