Georgism (also known as geoism and geonomics) is an economic philosophy holding that the economic value derived from land, including natural resources and natural opportunities, should belong equally to all residents of a community, but that people own the value that they create themselves. The Georgist paradigm offers solutions to social and ecological problems, relying on principles of land rights and public finance which attempt to integrate economic efficiency with social justice.
Georgism is concerned with the distribution of economic rent caused by natural monopolies, pollution, and the control of commons, including title over natural resources and other contrived privileges (e.g., intellectual property). Any natural resource, which is inherently limited in supply, can generate economic rent, but the classical and most significant example of 'land monopoly' involves the extraction of common ground rent from valuable urban locations. Georgists argue that taxing economic rent is efficient, fair, and equitable. The main Georgist policy tool is a tax assessed on land value. Georgists argue that revenues from a land value tax (LVT) can reduce or eliminate existing taxes on labor and investment that are unfair and inefficient. Some Georgists also advocate for the return of surplus public revenue back to the people through a basic income or citizen's dividend.
Economists since Adam Smith have observed that, unlike other taxes, a public levy on land value does not cause economic inefficiency. A land value tax is often said to have progressive tax effects, in that it is paid primarily by the wealthy (the landowners), and it cannot be passed on to tenants, workers, or users of land. Land value capture would reduce economic inequality, increase wages, remove incentives to misuse real estate, and reduce the vulnerability that economies face from credit and property bubbles.
The philosophical basis of Georgism dates back to several early proponents such as John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, and Thomas Paine, but the concept of gaining public revenues from natural resource privileges was widely popularized by the economist and social reformer Henry George and his first book, Progress and Poverty, published in 1879.
Georgist ideas were popular and influential in the late 19th and early 20th century. Political parties, institutions and communities were founded based on Georgist principles during that time. Early followers of Henry George's economic philosophy called themselves Single Taxers, associated with the idea of raising public revenue exclusively from land and privileges, but the term is now considered a misnomer because Georgists usually support multiple mechanisms for government funding. In classical and Georgist economics, the term 'land' is defined as all locations, natural opportunities, resources, physical forces, and government privileges over economic domains, which is closely related to the concept of commons. Georgism was coined later, and some prefer the term geoism or geonomics to distinguish their beliefs from those of Henry George.