The Intermountain Single Tax Association, 1954-1996

Collection Overview

Title: The Intermountain Single Tax Association, 1954-1996

Predominant Dates: 1985-1992

Arrangement: Arranged in three series: 1) Correspondence and Writings of ISTA President James L. Busey; Correspondence and Writings of ISTA Secretary Earl A. Hanson; and, 3) Publications By and About the ISTA and its Members.

Biographical Note

The Intermountain Single Tax Association (ISTA) formed in 1985 when James L. Busey and Earl A. Hanson decided to merge their two organizations – the Colorado Single Tax Association and Utahns for Tax Reforms. Busey, Professor Emeritus of Political Science from the University of Colorado served as President of the ISTA while Hanson, a retired electrical engineer was Secretary. The stated purpose of the joint organization was to secure “popular and legislative recognition and acceptance of the elimination or reduction of taxation of labor and capital, while shifting it to unearned land values.” By 1986, ISTA membership reached 60.

The ISTA hosted several regional conferences and organized local events around tax reform. Additionally, ISTA members worked within other organizations to achieve recognition and acceptance of land value taxation theory. At the urging of ISTA member Richard Gimmi, the Arizona State Republican Party passed the following resolution at its 1986 annual convention:

WHEREAS the value of unimproved land is socially created; and

WHEREAS the improvements on land and the results of human labor should not be taxed; and,

WHEREAS the present property tax system rewards owners of vacant inner city lands for not improving their property; and,

WHEREAS the present property tax system encourages urban sprawl while leaving large inner city areas undeveloped;

RESOLVED 1) that the Arizona Republican Party favors any measure which would cause a decrease or removal of all taxes which inhibit production, business, human labor or improvements on property; and, 2) that the Arizona Republican Party favors measures which would replace those lost revenues by increasing the site value tax on unimproved urban land.

In 1986 and 1990, ISTA member Don Pinson ran for real estate assessor for Clark County, NV. Both times he was defeated by the incumbent Jean Sutton, who held the office from 1974 until 1996. Some of Pinson’s campaign material is found in Series Three.

Both Busey and Hanson conducted successful press campaigns around local tax reform measures. Series One and Two of this collection feature dozens of published letters to the editor that appeared in regional newspapers including the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News. Series Three includes press reports on the ISTA and its members.

Collection Content

Series One: The Correspondence and Writings of ISTA President James L. Busey

Series Two: The Correspondence and Writings of ISTA Secretary Earl A. Hanson

Series Three: Other Publications About or By the ISTA and its Members