Lib Dems vote for land value tax

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The Liberal Democrats have voted to begin the process of introducing a land value tax, which could ultimately replace business rates and property taxes.

The motion, which was part of a policy paper on tax presented by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander to the conference today, states that the party will “remain committed” to introducing LVT.

Members of the party voted overwhelmingly in favour of progressing with the policy.

Now, the party will conduct a consultation on how the tax might work, and launch a “full-scale review” of the system in 2015 or 2016. An initial step may be to trial LVT based on the land value of commercial or residential properties.

It will now form part of the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto for the 2015 election.

Details on the policy released as part of the motion debated today said the Liberal Democrats anticipate LVT would “replace business rates and property taxes, and enable other taxes to be reduced or abolished”.

“We continue to believe there is a clear case for reforming business rates so that the charge is based on land value, not property value, and borne by the land owners, not the tenants,” it said.

Members of the party hoped the policy would incentivise building and dampen speculation in the property market, leading to a more stable economy.

Speaking during the debate, Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “We must have a system of LVT so that land that is lying empty can be used for housing now.”

Separately, the party voted against an amendment to the policy paper which would have seen the party support higher levels of stamp duty for overseas investors looking to buy residential property.

The amendment fell by a narrow vote, despite having high-level support within the party.

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