eg you buy a laptop, you have to pay the government a tax each year to keep it.
Why just apply it to houses? May as well just prohibit people from owning property.
Personally, I think such taxes are a massive disincentive for people to do well. As soon as you have enough money to buy a house, you are penalised for it.
Luckily in the UK, we don't have property tax, although we do have other taxes just as disgusting and unfair - stamp duty, inheritance tax, council tax.
You were required to declare your chairs and desks and tables, calculators, paper and pens, books, bicycles, cameras and computers, and everything and look up its market value and then pay the usual tax just as if it were real estate. You were required to do it every single year. And it's still the law for property above an exempt amount, but no longer applies to every paperclip like it used to.
That law is crazy, of course. Real estate is a big expensive immovable item that creates limits on the level of corruption and record keeping headaches so it's the best target for property taxation. Maybe really big vehicles like cars and airplanes and boats could be targets, too, if they have a home base, but even then you can see problems.
And finally, Henry George  points out that the ideal property tax to promote investment, limit corruption and cheating, allow fair administration, limit any kind of dead-weight loss , and generate reasonable revenue would be a tax on land value only. Buildings, improvements, vehicles, and personal property should be exempt and only the land's location, area, and fixed geology/hydrology/soil conditions should matter.
* blind investments into endless real estate development projects that have no tenants or structural quality (China, Dubai)
* extremely high prices for anyone entering the real estate market (old European monarchies, where a family might have owned the same real estate for centuries)
* lack of funds for upkeeping and maintaining what's considered a shared property (facades, sidewalks) while maintaining fancy interiors (Eastern Europe)
No. Property tax is primarily a means for localities to raise revenue. If what you were saying were true, then developed land, including primary residences, would have no associated property taxes. It'd be exempt.
Council tax is the UK property tax. It's a very low-rated and regressive tax, but it's a property tax.
"All personal property situated in the commonwealth is subject to tax, unless specifically exempt by law"
(To ancitipate an obvious rebuttal: yes, I will admit that inheritance tax has probably put people off the idea of dying.)
Inheritance tax is very unfair. If you are rich enough, you'll plan around it and avoid it. But if you're not rich enough, your kids will not only lose their parents, they'll be sent a bill from the government. Which at best is a tad insensitive.
Add to that the fact that the thresholds for inheritance tax haven't been raised properly, so that someone with a 1 bedroom apartment in London will be subject to inheritance tax, it all seems pretty unfair, and perverse for the government to effectively profit from peoples death.
You know that your entire income isn't taxed at the highest bracket's rate, right? So, for example, the highest bracket is 39.6% for income above $400k. If you make $410k, $10k is taxed at 39.6%, and the rest of your income is taxed at a lower rate.
For simplicity sake, consider that first 100K are taxed at 10% and next 100K at 20%. If you made 100K your effective tax had been 10% i.e. you owed 10K to the government, however if you made 200K, even though the first 100K is still taxed at the same rate, your effective rate is 15% because you now owe 30K out of 200K.
Why bother trying harder if the government will take half of anything extra you make?
However, I feel that I'm already paying the government FAR more money than I should be, so I'm simply not bothered about trying to make them more money.
Given a hypothetical luxury good with a price of $500,000 under a current taxation regime, which do you think is more likely in a regime with, say, 50% higher taxes: That the luxury good ceases to be produced, or that its price is lowered to the point where a similar number of people as before could afford it?
To answer your second question is impossible - we don't know the shape of supply and demand curves nor do we know the initial rate of taxes. E.g. if the original taxes had been 1% then it's just going to bump the price a little bit. If the original taxes had been 50% then it ceased to be produced.
But if you want to know the general relation of taxes and supply and demand consider how things are going to progress as you keep raising taxes. Do you seriously believe prices are going to fall as the taxes raise?
What matters is the people who are actually paying the bulk taxes and making investments.
Numbers vary, but it's definitely fewer than 5% and possibly fewer than 1% of households that need to do anything at all to avoid the estate tax. And these are people who have benefited immensely from services provided by the government (if only the services that keeps people from stealing their wealth!) and are really doing quite alright; adjusting the tax code to make them do even better seems unfair.
Secondly I have never heard of anyone who didn't want to make more money because of their tax bracket. I do not believe this phenomenon exists, and even if it did, it wouldn't strike me as all that much of a problem in a population with unemployment as high as our own.
You can get around it by 'gifting' things to your kids, as long as you then don't die for 7 years after etc etc.
On your last point, it certainly does exist. What I think happens is people like me don't bother trying so hard, because I'll be damned if I'm going to give the government more money.
However, people who are already making much more than me, just hire a good accountant to 'make the problem go away' - eg register offshore companies etc etc
Are you seriously saying, that when the UK government had a higher tax rate of 97% in the 60s/70s, you would have been more than happy to do that extra overtime work, and would have gladly received your 3%??? Crazy
Anything over 49% is slavery, and will end up crippling the country rather than raising more tax revenue. Which is why it was absolutely right and proper that the current government reduced the top rate from 50% to 45%.
Here, generally, personal income taxes are replaced with property, sales, and business (franchise) taxes. You pay taxes, as a person, on your vehicle, real property, and per taxable transaction. But, you do not pay it on your income.