Georgism

The tax upon land values is, therefore, the most just and equal of all taxes. It falls only upon those who receive from society a peculiar and valuable benefit, and upon them in proportion to the benefit they receive. It is the taking by the community, for the use of the community, of that value which is the creation of the community. It is the application of the common property to common uses. When all rent is taken by taxation for the needs of the community, then will the equality ordained by Nature be attained. No citizen will have an advantage over any other citizen save as is given by his industry, skill, and intelligence; and each will obtain what he fairly earns. Then, but not till then, will labor get its full reward, and capital its natural return.

Ground-rents are a still more proper subject of taxation than the rent of houses. A tax upon ground-rents would not raise the rents of houses. It would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent, who acts always as a monopolist, and exacts the greatest rent which can be got for the use of his ground. More or less can be got for it according as the competitors happen to be richer or poorer, or can afford to gratify their fancy for a particular spot of ground at a greater or smaller expense. In every country the greatest number of rich competitors is in the capital, and it is there accordingly that the highest ground-rents are always to be found. As the wealth of those competitors would in no respect be increased by a tax upon ground-rents, they would not probably be disposed to pay more for the use of the ground. Whether the tax was to be advanced by the inhabitant, or by the owner of the ground, would be of little importance. The more the inhabitant was obliged to pay for the tax, the less he would incline to pay for the ground; so that the final payment of the tax would fall altogether upon the owner of the ground-rent. Both ground-rents and the ordinary rent of land are a species of revenue which the owner, in many cases, enjoys without any care or attention of his own. Though a part of this revenue should be taken from him in order to defray the expenses of the state, no discouragement will thereby be given to any sort of industry. The annual produce of the land and labour of the society, the real wealth and revenue of the great body of the people, might be the same after such a tax as before. Ground-rents and the ordinary rent of land are, therefore, perhaps, the species of revenue which can best bear to have a peculiar tax imposed upon them. [...] Nothing can be more reasonable than that a fund which owes its existence to the good government of the state should be taxed peculiarly, or should contribute something more than the greater part of other funds, towards the support of that government.

Henry George wrote that his plan for a high land value tax would cause people "to contribute to the public, not in proportion to what they produce ... but in proportion to the value of natural [common] opportunities that they hold [monopolize]". He went on to explain that "by taking for public use that value which attaches to land by reason of the growth and improvement of the community", it would, "make the holding of land unprofitable to the mere owner, and profitable only to the user".

In practice, the elimination of all other taxes implies a high land value tax, greater than any currently existing land tax. Introducing or increasing a land value tax would cause the purchase price of land to decrease. George did not believe landowners should be compensated and described the issue as being analogous to compensation for former slave owners. Other geoists disagree on the question of compensation; some advocate complete compensation while others endorse only enough compensation required to achieve Georgist reforms. Some geoists advocate compensation only for a net loss due to a shift of taxation to land value; most taxpayers would gain from the replacement of other taxes with a tax on land value. Historically, those who advocated for taxes on rent tax only great enough to replace other taxes were known as endorsers of single tax limited.

Most early advocacy groups described themselves as single taxers and George reluctantly accepted the single tax as an accurate name for his main political goal—the repeal of all unjust or inefficient taxes, to be replaced with a land value tax (LVT).