Single tax

For the monthly newspaper, see The Single Tax.

A single tax is a system of taxation based mainly or exclusively on one tax, typically chosen for its special properties, often being a tax on land value.[1] The idea of a single tax on land values was proposed independently by John Locke and Baruch Spinoza in the 17th century. The French physiocrats later coined the term impôt unique because of the unique characteristics of land and rent.

Pierre Le Pesant, sieur de Boisguilbert and Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban also recommended a single tax, but unlike the physiocrats, they rejected the claim that land has certain economic properties which make it uniquely suitable for taxation, so they instead proposed a flat tax on all incomes.[2]

In the late 19th and early 20th century, a populist single tax movement emerged which also sought to levy a single tax on the rental value of land and natural resources, but for somewhat different reasons.[3] This "Single Tax" movement later became known as Georgism, a proposal for a simplified and equitable tax system that upholds natural rights and whose revenue is based exclusively on ground and natural resource rents, with no additional taxation of improvements such as buildings. Some libertarians advocate land value capture as a consistently ethical and non-distortionary means to fund the necessary operations of government, with surplus revenue to be equally distributed to all members of society as a universal, guaranteed basic income traditionally called the citizen's dividend. (See bleeding-heart and geolibertarianism)

There have been other proposals for a single tax concerning property, goods, or income.[4] More recently others have made proposals for a single tax based on other revenue models, such as the FairTax proposal for a consumption tax and various flat tax proposals on personal incomes.[5]

See also


  1. "English definition of "single tax"". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  2. Steiner, Phillippe (2003) "Physiocracy and French Pre-Classical Political Economy", Chapter 5. in eds. Biddle, Jeff E, Davis, Jon B, & Samuels, Warren J.: A Companion to the History of Economic Thought. Blackwell Publishing, 2003.
  3. Young, Nichols (1916). The single tax movement in the United States. Princeton University Press. Retrieved 2012-10-21.
  4. Seligman. "The Income Tax". Political Science Quarterly. 9 (4): 610–648. doi:10.2307/2139851.
  5. Calls for single 30% income tax rate

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