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land tax,impost levied upon real property. It is sometimes called a real estate tax, especially when assessed against both improved and unimproved land. Probably the earliest direct tax and formerly the chief source of government revenue, it was known in ancient China and Egypt. Until modern times, European countries depended on it almost exclusively. In the United States the land tax (including the tax on improved property) has been the chief method of collecting local revenue, accounting for some 25% of all state and local government receipts. The tax may be assessed on the sale value of the property, although a fairer method is classification of the land according to its productiveness. For special theories of land tax, see physiocratsphysiocrats
, school of French thinkers in the 18th cent. who evolved the first complete system of economics. They were also referred to simply as "the economists" or "the sect." The founder and leader of physiocracy was François Quesnay.
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any levy that serves as the government's only source of revenue. Generally, however, it is understood to mean a tax derived from economic rent and used as the sole source of public receipts.
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See R. T. Ely and E. W. Morehouse, Elements of Land Taxation (1924); H. Brown et al., ed., Land-Value Taxation Around the World (1955); H. P. Wald, Taxation of Agricultural Land in Underdeveloped Economies (1959).
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