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!
CSE has been an effective organization promoting the implementation of a fair and just tax system for localities for many years. It offers a fact-based analysis to government officials and other policy makers. Here in Connecticut, where I live, is has been the key influence in getting legislation passed that allow cities and towns to implement a tax system geared to promoting development as well as justice for all our citizens. CSE deserves greater funding so it can apply its expertise to many more localities.
The Center for the Study of Economics provides essential, science-based analysis of the role public finance plays on the social and economic health of communities. The civic leaders of every town and city would benefit by embracing the policy proposals CSE supports. CSE's research focuses on the central role tax policy plays in our property markets. During my nearly forty year career in the real estate and banking sector working to put together financial structures that addressed the need for decent, affordable housing and community revitalization, it became clear to me that the overtaxation of property improvements and the undertaxation of the value of land parcels was a central reason the problems existed in the first place.
The director and his small team perform an extremely valuable public service. The Center has worked with civic and governmental leaders of cities, towns and boroughs all across the United States to identify the best means of raising public revenue consistent with sustainable economic growth. There is no other organization with which I am familiar that fully grasps the distinct impact of policies of taxation on the investment decisions of residents and property owners. Every community in the United States would benefit by adopting the recommendations put forward by the Center in its research papers and and case studies.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
It seems as if his person simply disagrees with our mission, which has been consistent since 1926.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most effective of all altruism. They will use every penny well, to help save cities and the hope for a just society.
I have long read CSE's newsletter, and donated as I was able (originally not much, back when I was an impecunious student; more now that I'm a fifty year old professional). The Center for the Study of Economics has been effective in conducting studies and publicizing the case for land value taxation, despite operating on a shoestring budget. I know about the budget, since I was treasurer for some years, and am now president. We have conducted studies and outreach in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, although our endowment is pocket change by the standards of major organizations.
I heard of the Center for the Study of Economics and its sibling the Henry George Foundation of America when I was a teenager. I had read Henry George's "Progress and Poverty," and been persuaded; my father spotted an ad in "The New Republic" from CSE/HGFA. I've been in touch ever since. The CSE has been helpful in doing studies and making presentations, causing over a dozen towns in Pennsylvania to switch from a conventional property tax to a two-rate tax. In some cases, they also cut wage taxes. It isn't obvious to most people why this matters. Feeding the hungry is clearly good, but reforming taxes matters in the long run because it enables people to feed themselves. We should tax land, which is not produced by human effort, instead of buildings that people work to erect, and instead of the wages that they earn. The CSE educates people about this, and performs studies on the results when this kind of tax reform is at least partially implemented. The CSE is very cost effective; on a budget of about $100,000 per year, it has helped transfer millions of taxes off the backs of wage-earners, tenants, and homeowners onto landholders, who are on teh average richer.
Review from Guidestar
This is an effective organization with a hugely positive impact on the world.
The Center for the Study of Economics is the leader in the field of property tax improvement. They assisted me with considering alternatives to the standard property tax in both Bridgeport and Greenwich, Connecticut where I was the City Assessor. They have also assisting many jurisdictions in implementing raising greater revenue from land values. They have demonstrated enhancing the positive and socially desirable elements of the property tax.
The Center for the Study of Economics is the preeminent leader in the field of property tax modernization--assisting many jurisdictions in removing negative and economically harmful elements of the conventional property tax while enhancing the positive and socially desirable elements of the tax.
Walter Rybeck, former assistant director, National Commission on Urban Problems
CSE is working with great expertise using up-to-date tools such as land value mapping, toward a less burdensome, less counterproductive tax system.
Center for the Study of Economics is competent, professional, efficient, clear - I cannot say enough good things! But most significantly, CSE is successfully working for progressive tax reform to build our local based economies, CSE is doing some of the most important work that needs doing to build a fair market economy, one that works for everyone.
As a professional community planner who has worked in the field almost a half a century I can not think of a more effective tool than incentive taxation / LVT to create healthier, fairer, more fiscally secure communities.
As a professional community planner I know of no other tool that can be as effective in creating equitable, sustainable communities. I am also an urban designer and architect, and although the physical structure and quality of design are essential to the health of a place, the basic fairness and integrity of the economy are the bedrock.
The Center for the Study of Economics has consistently done the emperical research and the advoccy to make the right things happen to reduce destructive speculation and encourage true community improvement, revitalization and vitalization. The word, the message and the evidence must be shared, and the Center is the one organization ready to do that!
Review from Guidestar
I am mayor and past council president of a borough in southeastern Pennsylvania. The Center For The Study Of Economics helped our borough GREATLY (and at no expense to us) over the past 6 years. They completed an initial study for us to evaluate the feasibility of Land Value Tax in our community. The results were that it seemed like a real no brainer for us. Then political control changed hands and we were not able to act immediately as I and several others had wished. However, as the political winds changed again last year we were able to begin implementation of land value tax in our borough and plan to further expand it this coming year. The folks at CSE did a wonderful, professional job with outreach and presentation to the community (and to some of our legislators) and helped lead our borough back into financial sustainability.