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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economics, Public Finance, Taxation & Monetary Policy

Mission: The Center for the Study of Economics (CSE) is a 501c3 organization. Our mission is to assist local government in evaluating current local and urban tax policy. Our remit is to study and administer implementation of land value taxation (LVT) to determine which policy would work best in meeting local government’s economic development, budgetary and planning goals.

Results: The Center’s unique experience is in identifying appropriate sources of revenue of value capture either as a standalone project or as part of traditional government expenditure. Specifically, in 1996 the Center was commissioned by the Allentown home rule charter Commission to analyze existing values and apply them to a land value capture environment. The Center also identified other forms of tax that were barriers to investment of labor and capital in the city of Allentown Pennsylvania. Per its mission, the Center created parcel by parcel as well as aggregate analysis of the city to give the Commission (and subsequently the voters) accurate information pre-and post-implementation. In 1997, Center was asked to identify revenue effects of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s options for establishing a Business Improvement District (BID). Land value capture was selected as the funding option for the BID, tying in both an incentive and reward for built parcels, and an incentive for vacant and blighted parcels to pay substantially more into the mission of the district. In 2001, the city of Altoona Pennsylvania facing disinvestment and depopulation asked the center to identify, study and project the effect of a 10 year shift to a property tax system based upon capturing land values only. Implementation took place over the 10 year period, with the Center’s assistance in adjusting tax levies as needed by the city. In 2013 – 2015, the Center was charged by Connecticut’s M.O.R.E. Commission on municipal efficiencies, who identify, study, and publish the various scenarios of land value capture in Connecticut’s municipalities (parking studies, construction forecasts, revenue outcomes for cities, etc.) Throughout its active research and educational history, center has identified both legal and political obstacles to land value capture and taxation successfully. The Center provided research to both the Maryland Attorney General in 1995 and the Virginia Attorney General in 1999 to provide solid evidence that land value capture could be enacted constitutionally and legally. CSE has induced 20 cities, school districts and improvement districts to adopt LVT. The general outcomes have been: - reduction in tax burdens for homeowners, renters and productive business - growth of municipal tax bases as more investment and work returns to urban centers - changing urban property taxes into a model of progressivity - penalizing blight and land vacancy with added tax incidence, removing rewards for holding land our of use through private land baking

Target demographics: Revitalization by incentivizing markets to return and expand cities without the use of costly and unreliable subsidy and abatement programs.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 20 jurisdictions, and provided education, expert witness testimony and outreach in 12 states, and dozens of cities, as well as international partners in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Geographic areas served: Urban areas and cities suffering from blight, depopulation and disinvestment

Programs: Education, research, outreach and program implementation and administration assistance to local governments. We field numerous media queries to help the public better understand the need for bold new policies to provide a fair and just economy for all.

Community Stories

51 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is an underfunded, immensely important organization. It doesn't try to do everything; it zeroes in on helping cities reform their municipal tax policies to grow local economies, resist sprawl pressures and improve infrastructure. Over the years the CSE has developed expertise and learned how to relate to elected officials. CSE delivers what it promises!

1 Rich N.

Client Served

Rating: 5

CSE has impressively led the expansion of the use of land value tax shifts in both Pennsylvania and Connecticut and have been an invaluable resource for similar efforts here in Minnesota. A very impactful organization.

1 Scott B.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 3

The CSE has been instrumental in modeling the way for small towns to tax shift off of buildings and onto land, in a revenue-neutral way. Though they would like to, they don't have the influence to convince lawmakers to shift away from deadweight taxes on wages, sales, etc., though that - the Single Tax - is what their inspiration, Henry George, advocated for.
Even within this partial solution, however, CSE has been able to demonstrate significant improvements from their plan in economic activity, reduction of urban blight, development of idle vacant land, and general economic improvement.
The problem is, CSE is too small and under-staffed, and their reforms too muted, to show the kinds of major changes that would be overwhelmingly convincing, so it is a constant struggle to convince the next town, and the town after that. Also, big cities have too powerful lobbies in the R.E. and banking sector for CSE to achieve change.
Some have complained that the reforms are really just a giveaway to the developer industry, lowering the rent of property by untaxing buildings more than raising the tax on land commensurately. But this ignores the rise in price of land that results. This is offset by greater development and competition, which can wind up lowering the cost of housing. The overall result has been positive wherever CSE's plans have been implemented, but not overwhelmingly convincing.

Previous Stories
4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Center for the Study of Economics is the major Georgist organization implementing the principles of the Single Tax on a city-by-city basis. With their recent victory in Altoona, PA, where they helped lead a 10 year taxshift off of buildings and onto land, the CSE has been largely responsible for helping that city, and several other Pennsylvania cities, increase both their building and their overall prosperity. The practical effects of untaxing building (improvements) and taxing land instead, include: reducing hoarding of valuable land, increasing opportunity, providing new housing for people at all levels, and dampening land speculation - which many economists lies at the root of the current economic crisis.
The CSE's past leader and emeritus, Dr. Steven Cord, has compiled 238 studies that show land value taxation works, and works always when properly applied.
CSE's new and dynamic leader, Josh Vincent, continues the important work of his predecessor, ticking off new victories one-by-one in the northeast, creating a more prosperous and just world, and proving these two goals are not incompatible if a proper economic paradigm is applied.
For those who understand the works of America's greatest economist, Henry George, you won't find a better implementer of these time-tested principles that the Center for the Study of Economics.
- Scott Baker, President of Common Ground-NYC

Review from Guidestar

3 sternyik

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

CES helps to practice Land Value Taxation with applicable technical tools; it helps to develop the discipline of Geo-Economics or Earth Sharing with empirical contributions that complete the theoretical model of capturing economic rent from location fees of land-based resources. Consequently, CES does important work to realize the ultimate or least bad tax.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

I regret that I cannot give this nonprofit a higher rating, but using local property tax laws to collect ground rents was only reluctantly chosen by Henry George and his lawyer Thomas Shearman after their preferred income-tax-based LVT was ruled unconstitutional in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan (1895).

The local property-tax-based LVT was actually George and Shearman's third choice, and they only considered it to be better than nothing. There's also a danger that a property-tax-based LVT will lead to land nationalization, which of course is not Georgist at all.

To my knowledge, New Hampshire is the only state that now levies income taxes exclusively on unearned income, while exempting wages from the tax base. This is more like what George and Shearman had in mind when they pitched their preferred method, the 1893 "Just and Practicable Income Tax," argued before the Subcommittee on Internal Revenue in Washington, D.C.

However, George died in 1897 and Shearman in 1900, long before the 16th Amendment (1913) would make their preferred 1893 method possible.

If the CSE is considering shifting away from the property-tax-based LVT to the income-tax-based one, and using assessors for that purpose (instead of infringing on property rights), please let me know so I can give a 5-star rating.

Comments ( 1 )

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Joshua_Vincent 10/14/2016

It seems as if his person simply disagrees with our mission, which has been consistent since 1926.

2 Dan_93

Volunteer

Rating: 5

They don't offer charity so much as they show local and state governments how to find real economic solutions so they won't need charity - solutions that reduce taxes on homeowners, renters and the most productive businesses, without losing revenue.

There is an ideological basis for this that stems from classical liberalism and early progressivism, but their approach is overwhelmingly data-driven and pragmatic.

2 Andrew102

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

CSE does great work in research, education and providing assistance to community groups in urban economics, development economics, land & resource economics, revitalization programs & policies. Strongly recommended.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

As a long-time advocate of land value taxation, I rely on this organization to develop and analyze the data to show whether or no this approach will work in New York State localities. CSE has done analysis of several cities in this state and others.

Previous Stories
4

Board Member

Rating: 5

What is attractive about the Georgist economic paradigm is that it comports not only with all the textbook principles of sound economic theory, but it reflects as well a system of justice that is easily understood. The idea that we own what we make with our hands or minds and that which is given to us by nature is the birthright of all, and should be shared by all, restores to society a simple and clear system of justice. The Center for the Study of Economics is effective because it has the skill to use computers and available data to show how these ideas can be effectuated. Until the advent of computer power, such ideas needed to rely on rhetorical argument alone. And they were largely dormant for a century. This is now changing. And fast! I am proud to be a part of this movement.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have known of this organization for many years and have found it leading in the effort to replace other punitive taxes with the benign tax on land values. For any government, large or small, from national to village, the land value tax (also known as site value tax or rating) or the variant two rate tax in Pennsylvania (LAND / BUILDINGS) leads landowners to put their land to use to with out penalizing them for doing so. It lets' land value fund government as the land value increase with out waiting for investment by developers. Then development is smooth and orderly and enhancing to the community, instead of boom and bust as speculators disrupt the market by creating shortages in available land and followed surpluses of development to pay for inflated land. The staff is available to advise and plan a transition in taxing.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The most effective of all altruism. They will use every penny well, to help save cities and the hope for a just society.