Free and Fair Economy: Land Value Taxes and the Future of Newburgh


What is “Free and Fair Economy: Land Value Taxes and the future of newburgh?”

“Free and Fair Economy: Land Value Taxes and the Future of Newburgh” is an initiative to propose a land value tax system for the City of Newburgh, NY.

What are Land Value Taxes?

As opposed to property taxes, which tax improvements upon the land, a land value tax places a tax on where scarcity - and value - inherently exist: the land itself. In effect, land value taxes encourage the most utilitarian use of land by landowners. Such a tax discourages speculation, mitigates sprawl, incentivizes stewardship, and provides for a progressive form of taxation in which inequality is minimized through the aligned interests of landowners and land users - that is, everyone.

Land value taxes were most saliently articulated and championed by the 19th-century economist Henry George. His book, Progress and Poverty, remains one of the best selling books on political economy. And his ideas have held equal weight and interest across the political spectrum.


The City of Newburgh has the second-largest historic district of properties in New York State. It is where an entire vernacular of American architecture and landscape architecture came to life, its cityscape populated by the works of A.J. Davis, Frederick Clarke Withers, J.A. Wood, Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux, and Andrew Jackson Downing.

Newburgh is where Lucy and Desi premiered their act at the Ritz Theater in 1941; where Thomas Edison lived and built one of the first electric substations in the nation; where the successful African-American family, the Alsdorfs, led some of the earliest desegregation efforts; and where George Washington lived longer than anywhere else during the Revolution, thwarting an attempted coup and preserving the nascent nation.

Newburgh was also home to Father Edward McGlynn, a popular NYC-based Catholic priest and proponent of land value taxes who was excommunicated from the Church in part because of his ardent advocacy. The “Rebel Priest” was reinstated in the Church, and from 1894 till his death in 1900, McGlynn led St. Mary’s parish in Newburgh, where he continued advocating for land value taxes.

Decimated by the legacy effects of urban renewal, Newburgh has long been hampered by high vacancy rates and a high property tax burden. This initiative shows how a different mode of taxation can provide a more equitable, just and inclusive mode of development for the city.


Join us in our effort to Show Newburgh a different way - A way that unlocks the economic and social value stored in its lands, minimizes the tax burden on its residents and provides a foundation for its future. Here’s how:



Get on the horn:

Who are we?

Ben Schulman, The Newburgh Packet; Joshua Vincent, Center for the Study of Economics; Marty Rowland, Henry George School of Social Sciences; Alanna Hartzok, Earth Rights Institute

Newburgh image: Cameron Blaylock