Talking Land Value Tax

A land value tax could work better than our current system and would be an answer to generational land speculators like Niagara Falls Redevelopment (NFR). WE need new solutions to old problems.

From our issues web page (sethfornf.com/issues) Our city’s two-tiered tax system punishes small businesses. Meanwhile, land speculators comfortably occupy acres of vacant land that could be used for development. The solution to these problems is to work with New York State to implement a Land Value Tax.

While traditional property taxes increase as the value of the buildings on a piece of land increase, land value taxes are based solely on an appraisal of the land’s value. Land adjacent to scenic views and tourist amenities should be taxed higher than land in a neighborhood dotted with vacant buildings and brownfields, regardless of what buildings occupy that land. Homeowners should not be punished for improving their neighborhoods by investing in their homes. Instead, land that demands a high sale price from the market, or that has the potential to enrich its owners immensely through the collection of rent or other forms of income, will be taxed accordingly. This discourages land speculation, since undeveloped land in prime areas will cost much more to hang on to without developing. It also ends the counterproductive practice of punishing property owners for developing their land.

As a city, our biggest asset is and always has been our land and waterways. The same Niagara River that protected the Niagara Frontier from invasion in the 1800s also cooled machinery in the industrial plants that employed a generation of local families in the 20th Century. Today, it attracts millions of tourists to our city each year. By working with New York State to enact a pilot Land Value Tax program in our downtown tourist areas, we can finally allow our greatest assets to truly benefit City residents first and foremost.

Seth Piccirillo