Uncollected Land Taxes
J. Rupert Mason
[Reprinted from Land and Freedom,
While writing and working to gain new friends and supporters for the
teaching of Henry George, should we ignore the fact that there are
millions of acres in this nation, today, on which the holders have
paid no taxes for many years, and which are still controlled or in the
possession of tax defaulting and tax evading holders?
Obviously, it is not only important that taxes be levied on land
values, but it is also important that they be collected. If the
comparatively small tax rates that have been levied on land values are
permitted to go indefinitely uncollected, what is the point in seeking
Schools, roads, etc., formerly paid for by the owners of real
property in the local taxing unit, are now largely being "assumed"
by the states. The states in turn have had no difficulty getting
billions for the asking from Uncle Sam. Under the New Deal this totals
around twenty-six billion dollars, of which nineteen billion have been
outright gifts and grants. Not only are the taxes that have been
levied not being collected, in many states, due to tax sale moratorium
laws, the "realtors" have gotten the legislatures to enact,
but there has been a shift in the tax burden from land holders, to
industry and the products of labor, far greater than is commonly
It is said that over half of all the land in Florida has paid no
taxes of any kind in more than ten years, yet it has not been
foreclosed by the state, and can be "redeemed" by the
original title holder, often without any penalty.
In a baseball game, if the umpire allowed a player to keep the bat
after he'd had three strikes, there would surely be eight unemployed
members of the team keeping the bench warm. The slump has left a vast
new frontier on the doorstep of the states for unpaid taxes. It badly
needs some attention, but industry merely "complains" that
taxes are too high, and doesn't see that landholders have shifted a
big new tax load on them.