Is Higher Land Holding Tax the Solution for Korea's Land Problems?

토지보유과세강화(土地保有課稅强化)의 당위성(當爲性)에 대한 검토(檢討)

  • Published : 1992.09.30


This paper examines the increasingly popular belief that higher holding tax will be the ultimate solution for Korea's land problems which include excessive concentration of ownership, high and rapidly increasing land prices, and rampant speculation. In principle, land holding tax can supplement capital gains tax in recapturing capital gains from land or suppress returns from land investment returns in line with other forms of asset. This paper shows, however, that the tax burden must be drastically increased for the tax to achieve such goals, and the resistance from tax payers is sure to be intense. As long as the price expectation remains high, as in Korea where land prices have increased 19% annually during the past 18 years, even such increase in the tax may have little impact on landlords' behaviors, the price trend, or the ownership structure. More effective solutions for Korea's land problems are relaxing land use regulations to encourage the supply for urban land and improving the performance of capital gains tax to recapture windfall gains from land. This paper also notes that the so-called "lock-in effect" of the capital gains tax seems to be exaggerated. Land holding tax should be viewed as a revenue raiser for local governments rather than an anti-speculative policy tool. Abandoning unattainable policy goals and adhering to the general principles of taxation, will make land holding tax much simpler, and will better function as a local revenue source.