Much discussion has been carried on as to what effect the adoption of a tax on land values to secure the amount of revenue which is now needed would have in changing the tax burden, particularly as between rural and urban communities. It has been set forth by its advocates, in order to win the rural population to its support, that rural communities under such a system of taxation would pay proportionately less taxes than at present. In some cases this might be true, but a little calculation should convince one that, as a general proposition, the opposite situation will prevail.

Comparison of Rural and Urban Values. - The enormous land values of the city are pictured - a block in the loop district in Chicago, for example - and then the insignificant value of an acre of farm land is offered in comparison. The deceitfulness in such a portrayal lies in the fact that the total value of all the agricultural land in an assessment district is not compared with the total value of all city lots. If this be done it will be found that in most cases agricultural land values exceed the values of city lands. The other aspect of vital importance is the proportion which the value of other assessable property bears to the value of land in each case. In general, the proportion is much higher in cities than in the country. When these two features are taken into consideration, the conclusion inevitably follows that, if land values were made to shoulder the entire tax burden, a larger proportionate amount would be exacted from the rural districts than before the inauguration of the plan.

Suppose an agricultural section and a city in the same taxing district. The assessed value of the rural land has been $5,000,000 and the assessment of other rural property $2,000,000. In the city the assessed value of the land has been $4,000,000, and of other property, $3,000,-000. The total tax collected has been $200,000, shared equally between city and country because the assessment was the same. With the exemption of all but land values this equality is disturbed, and more than half the amount will be assessed against the rural communities.

While it is the predominating condition generally, in agricultural communities, that the value of land exceeds the value of other property, exceptions are not hard to find. In some of the poorer communities land serves but little purpose, as in some of the states of the Southwest, or among the abandoned farms of New England. Here a large part of the taxable property consists of other than land, and the effect of adopting the single tax on land values would be tragic. Officials would be confronted with the task of extracting revenues from a source which had a bare existence.

The Individual Owner. - The aggregate relation between land values and other values becomes the concern of the individual property owner when it is suggested to make the land the sole basis of taxes. Suppose the aggregate relation is 50 per cent land values, and 50 per cent a property valuation, which is to be discarded. An individual whose property was made up of these proportions would find no difference in his tax burden; one whose land represented 75 per cent, and other property 25 per cent of the total value, would be the loser by the change; one whose land was 25 per cent of his total property, and other property 75 per cent, would be the gainer. A few years ago, when there was agitation for the untaxing of buildings in New York City, the land values of Manhattan represented 64 per cent of the total, and buildings 34 per cent. Consequently, only persons who had land worth more than 64 per cent of the building on it would have lost by the change.