Nevada's Allodial Title System
Author: Rich Drewes, email: drewes at interstice.com
Here is the rtf file: liberty-allodial.rtf
Do you own your house and the land on which it sits? In the conventional sense perhaps you do, but in a deeper sense you're really just leasing your land from your county government — stop paying your property taxes and see how much time passes before you lose your home and the land under it to the taxing authority. Of course there are other equally easy ways to lose property that don't directly involve the government; most homes have a bank mortgage, and nonpayment of a mortgage will also result in forfeiture of the property. But bank mortgages are contractual market obligations between non-governmental parties, and this sort of contractual obligation is traditionally and legally distinct from the special sort of obligations a landowner has to a sovereign or government arising from the simple fact of land title itself. The most significant of this special class of obligations is property tax. In the United States today, there is typically no way to “buy out” a property tax obligation and acquire unencumbered ownership to land, as one could pay off a mortgage. The continuing obligations to government make ownership of land very different from ownership of, say, a stereo, computer, or a lawn mower.
What if there were a simple process that could change your ownership of land to be more like your ownership of a stereo, not subject to special taxes or sudden confiscation by eminent domain as land is? That is the promise of a slippery idea called allodial title. The word “allodial” derives from roots that mean “allotted by God.” In other words, an owner that holds land allodially has no obligations for rent or service or anything else to any higher human power.
Most people with access to the Internet have probably received an unsolicited email or stumbled across a website promoting allodial title. These advertisements make allodial title sound like a sort of advanced form of the widespread (and government sanctioned) homestead exemption, often claiming that with a few simple steps which a homeowner can perform himself the traditional title on land can be transformed into a form of absolute ownership called allodial title. The promises are intriguing, but anyone who investigates more deeply finds that attempting to acquire allodial title is not so much a case of filing a bit of paperwork like a homestead declaration, but rather it is a lifestyle choice that will place the property owner in constant opposition to his county government and ultimately will result in the foreclosure of his property. The process of acquiring allodial title suggested by the recent popular advocates involves self-drafting a land patent or allodial title certificate, filing it at the country recorder, and then informing the county that you are no longer paying property taxes. The next steps are usually not described on the web sites: the wheels of the state begin to grind, and in fairly short order the sheriff will show up to take your land. Allodial title advocates seem to be genetically similar to those who hold that payment of income tax is optional. While appealing theories, both are uphill and probably losing battles in the current political environment. Choosing to ignore the income tax or property tax is only for those select few who have little to lose and enjoy the role of provocateur and test case. The government's opinion of the weight of self-drafted title certificates is unambiguous and it is spelled out in several court decisions, notably the 1985 case Nixon v. St. Joseph Mortgage where the United States District Court found that Mr. Nixon's self-drafted and filed land patent was not an obstacle to foreclosure. The court wrote, "Any pro se litigant who can read or write knows that one cannot give oneself better title to land by simply saying so on a piece of paper . . . Such self-serving, gratuitous activity does not, cannot and will not be sufficient by itself to create good title."
The concept of allodial title stood very much on the fringe in the modern United States until 1997, when a curious bill made it through the Nevada legislature. Nevada Senate Bill 403 defined the parameters for an allodial title program for the state. This appears to be the only official allodial re-titling program in the United States. After a few years of planning and implementation, it is now operational under the administration of the Nevada State Treasurer. The web site (http://nevadatreasurer.com/allodial1) begins with a definition of allodial title, one that would please even the Internet and newsletter cranks:
Allodial title means a total right to the land. This is property held in absolute ownership and without any obligation to a sovereign or government.
When first established, the land in this country was allodial by nature. This means that a person had the absolute right to it. It could not be taxed, liened, attached, or taken away from the property owner. That right was the same as sovereign title, which is the title that the king or government had to property. The governments held sovereign title and the highest form of title that could be held by an individual was fee simple absolute title. This means that the government still had the right of eminent domain and the right of taxation. The Allodial Title Program is a way to buy out the property tax right from the government and give it to the property owner.
This passage seems to say that Nevada is implementing a program to enable its residents to eliminate their property tax obligation by acquiring allodial title to their land. Could this be true? And is this really a return to old ownership patterns in the United States, as the passage implies, or instead an odd attempt to return to a state of affairs that never existed? A brief look at the history of land ownership rights will help us place these questions in context before we examine the details of the Nevada allodial title program itself.
Who Owns the Land?
Niceties aside, ownership of land ultimately rests in the claiming owner's physical capability to defend the land against other claimants. Once land is so claimed by an agent, that agent naturally recognizes no continuing obligations to outside parties, for example an obligation to pay a fee for the use of the land, or an obligation to surrender the land upon request. The only continuing obligation is to defend the claim if required. We will call such a claimant willing to defend land against other claimants an “ultimate owner.” Once an agent acquires physical possession of land with an intent and capability to defend it, that agent has the most absolute class of ownership of that land. This is the ownership of a state or sovereign.
Typically such a state or sovereign finds it desirable, for several reasons, to further disburse portions of land so claimed to its citizens or subjects. In most cases, the rights to the land transferred to the sub-owner comprise a mere subset of the absolute rights enjoyed by the ultimate owner, because if all rights were transferred, then the status of the sub-owner's property would logically be the same as that of the granting owner; such land would effectively be an independent state, with its own defense obligations, often within the geographical boundaries of the granting state. In addition to the subset of rights transferred, typically some obligations from the new title holder to the ultimate owner are also attached to the land. Different regimes at different times in history have transferred varying bundles of ownership rights and obligations to title holders along with the land.
Land Ownership in Rome, Europe, and England
In Roman times, lands conquered in Europe were sometimes transferred to the Roman soldiers who fought to claim them. While the Roman Empire was technically still the ultimate owner of these lands, since it could have at least in theory reclaimed them by force from the soldiers given them, in fact the soldiers who were granted these lands had virtually complete rights to the land and essentially no attendant obligations to the ultimate owner. Their ownership is said to be allodial. In most cases this state of absolute ownership gradually eroded over time, and some obligations (such as mutual defense) attached to the land. These obligations were initially informal, then more formal, finally being codified into local law to greater or lesser extents. Even though these obligations are at adds with the strict definition of “allodial” as a completely unencumbered right, land ownership that evolved in this way confusingly often retains the name “allodial” to distinguish it from feudally derived ownership, discussed next.
In Britain, the Norman conquest partially introduced and partially reinforced and extended a set of hierarchical land ownership laws and traditions that have come to be known as feudalism. A quite small set of rights and a relatively large set of obligations attached to real property for the vast majority of those living in feudal society. The obligations to the superior owner were the heart of the feudal system. The occupant of the land was obligated to pay “tenure” to a superior owner (perhaps the ultimate owner, but more likely a local lord who in turn had obligations to another superior owner). This tenure might have been service in an army, a tithe of the output of the land, or a simple payment in money. In essence, the tenure was a property tax obligation though its nonuniform and often discriminatory character also lent it characteristics of a rent payment. In return for the tenure, the occupant received limited rights to the land. Typically the rights transferred to land occupants included the right to live on the land, to work it, and to improve it. The property would be forfeited back to the superior owner if the tenure was not met. In most cases, feudal title holders also had restrictions on the transfer of the lands. The feudal title holder might require prior permission from the superior owner in order to transfer the property. In other cases, the land might revert back to the ultimate owner upon the death of the feudal title holder, regardless of the feudal title holder's inheritance wishes. The defining characteristic of feudal occupancy was the understanding that true ownership was always traced from occupant to superior owner and on to the ultimate owner, who could do with the land whatever he pleased and whenever he pleased it.
The only true allodial rights in feudal society were enjoyed by the highest ranks of society: the Crown, and perhaps a few great lords who were granted special land rights in return for exceptional service, or who simply declared their own land to be allodial due to simple inability of the former superior owner to enforce any more restrictive arrangement.
Toward the end of the feudal period, land rights became more regular and obligations attached to land decreased. The “freehold” or “fee simple” title retained a modified tenure obligation in the form of a property tax, but the discriminatory aspects of tenure and other feudal incidents were eliminated. While far from absolute ownership, fee simple title was good enough that most occupants came to think of themselves as the owners of the land, not merely tenants.
Land Ownership in the New World
Land in the Colonies was originally granted by the Crown to private companies who then had attendant tax obligations back to the Crown. These companies in turn granted colonists limited permission to use the lands, and in return the colonists paid property tax to the company for the privilege. These hierarchical arrangements were feudal in character, which is unsurprising given the colonists' country of origin. Once the colonies were well enough established that mere survival was no longer in question, westward expansion began and the character of land ownership began to slowly change. With the remoteness of England, de facto rights to lands outside the strict control of the original colonies increased and obligations decreased as a simple practical consequence of the difficulty of enforcing any stricter arrangement.
In his 1774 treatise “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” Thomas Jefferson bemoaned the legacy of feudal land ownership in the Colonies, and explained his hope that their true, allodial nature would soon be asserted:
. . . America was not conquered by William the Norman, nor its lands surrendered to him, or any of his successors. Possessions there [in America] are undoubtedly of the allodial nature. Our ancestors, however, who migrated hither, were farmers, not lawyers. The fictitious principle that all lands belong originally to the king, they were early persuaded to believe real; and accordingly took grants of their own lands from the crown. And while the crown continued to grant for small sums, and on reasonable rents; there was no inducement to arrest the error, and lay it open to public view. But his majesty has lately taken on him to advance the terms of purchase, and of holding to the double of what they were; by which means the acquisition of lands being rendered difficult, the population of our country is likely to be checked. It is time, therefore, for us to lay this matter before his majesty, and to declare that he has no right to grant lands of himself. From the nature and purpose of civil institutions, all the lands within the limits which any particular society has circumscribed around itself are assumed by that society, and subject to their allotment only. This may be done by themselves, assembled collectively, or by their legislature, to whom they may have delegated sovereign authority; and if they are alloted [sic] in neither of these ways, each individual of the society may appropriate to himself such lands as he finds vacant, and occupancy will give him title. . . .
In using the term “allodial” was Jefferson suggesting that the land should be owned absolutely, even free of any tax obligation — the allodialism of the Nevada Allodial Title Program's definition? Or was he merely hoping that the land would simply soon be free of feudal hierarchical ownership patterns, and the rents paid to the Crown would soon be paid to a domestic government of laws instead? It's not clear exactly what Jefferson was saying here. His later writings don't seem to support the idea that he embraced pure allodialism. But for the next period of American history, land ownership did come close to the allodial ideal.
After the Revolution, westward land expansion exploded. For a time, new lands on the frontier could be gained with generally no associated property tax or other obligation to an ultimate owner, simply by 'mixing one's labor' with the land in the Lockean tradition. Perhaps not coincidentally, this also met the goals of the nascent federal government: to get people to occupy the land so that it could be claimed as part of its domain. Not only were land owners not beholden to the Crown, as Jefferson hoped, but they also had very few obligations to the New-World analogs: the governments of the new states and the federal government. Even as the administration of law inevitably caught up with the westward pioneers, the pioneers were reluctant to surrender their extensive land ownership rights. States didn't push the issue because lands still further west always served as an escape for potential productive citizens if the land title laws were too restrictive. Consequently, these near-absolute land title attitudes were reflected in a number of state constitutions which explicitly identified land title as “allodial.” These states include Wisconsin, Arkansas, Minnesota, and New York (though the New York State Constitution was later amended removing the allodial provision). The Minnesota State Constitution, for example, states to this day that “. . . all lands within the state are allodial and feudal tenures are prohibited . . . “ As with the Jefferson passage, exactly what the drafters of these constitutions meant by their use of the term “allodial” is not completely clear. Since property taxes were a near universal feature even in the states whose constitutions declared the lands allodial, what can the reference to “allodial” really mean? Why does the Nevada allodial title program cite a definition that precludes property tax if the history of allodial title in the United States does not seem to preclude property tax, even in states that are explicitly allodial in their constitutions?
Allodial Ownership: Looking It Up
Black's Law Dictionary defines “allodial” as “Held in absolute ownership; pertaining to allodium.” “Allodium” in turn is defined as: “Held in fee simple absolute” and a quote from a reference is provided, which reads, “In this country, one who has full ownership of land is said to own it allodially — that is, free of feudal services and incidents.”
“Fee simple” is in turn defined as “. . . the broadest property interest allowed by law . . .” which “. . . endures until the current holder dies without heirs . . . “ An included reference goes on to say that fee simple ownership is “. . . the nearest approach to ownership of the land itself which is consonant with the feudal principle of tenure.”
Even this definition is circular and confusing; allodial is defined both as free from feudal services and incidents, and also equivalent to fee simple title which is a feudal concept. This definition of allodial ownership does not stand in opposition to feudal concepts but rather incorporates them. Other definitions of “allodial,” including the definition used in the promotion of the Nevada allodial title program, make it clear that a key feature of allodial ownership is lack of rental (or tax) obligations to a superior owner (or state). These definitions conflict. Either the definition was subverted over time, or the definition stands but subsequent laws have not stayed true to the original vision. Nevada's definition seem to harken back to an earlier, more absolute definition of allodial — one that may never have actually existed in practice on a large scale.
Building on this unsteady theoretical foundation, Nevada further distorted the allodial concept.
Nevada's Allodial Title System Described
The surest way to understand what Nevada's new allodial title program is to ignore the confusing history of the allodial concept and examine the details of the program itself. To take part in Nevada's new allodial title program, a property owner must meet several stringent criteria. First, he must own the property outright, without any mortgage or encumbrance. Second, the title holder must actually reside on the property. After completing a simple one page form and submitting it to the program administrators, the property owner is told the amount he must pay to “buy out” his property tax obligation. He must then pay the Nevada State Treasurer this fairly large lump sum of money, which, behind the scenes, the Treasurer will place into an “Allodial Title Trust Fund” in the property owner's name. At that point, the property owner need never pay property tax again, providing he is not forced to surrender allodial title for any of several reasons.
The amount of money the property owner must pay to buy out his property tax obligation is actuarially determined by the Treasurer to be equal to the total amount that the property owner would have paid in property taxes throughout his estimated lifetime, including normal property tax increases for a certain projected average level of improvements to the property. This amount will be held in the Trust Fund by the Nevada Treasurer and the principal and interest it earns will be used to pay the property taxes on the owner's behalf. If the property owner dies ahead of schedule, the excess left over in the account will be refunded to his estate. If the property owner lives much longer than average, he will receive a windfall, since his property taxes will continue to be paid, at state expense, even if his own Trust Fund is exhausted. In no case will the property owner be required to make further contributions to his Trust Fund to retain allodial title. The amount that a property owner must pay to acquire allodial title is therefore much higher for younger people, since the Treasurer is expecting it will have to pay property taxes out of the Fund on the owner's behalf for a much longer time.
What Good Is It?
If you can collect enough money to pay off your mortgage and pre-pay your property taxes for the rest of your life (an amount that in many cases will approach or even exceed the market value of the property itself), what benefits will you enjoy once you acquire allodial title? The answer is, surprisingly few.
Once secured, allodial title does extend the conventional homestead protection beyond the normal $125,000 to cover all the equity in the property. Since allodial title cannot be acquired unless the property is owned outright, this means that the allodial title holder will necessarily have a conventional homestead benefit for the entire value of the property and improvements. There is obviously some value in this for those who are debt prone. Allodial title also broadens the protections of the homestead slightly. For example, whereas a mechanic's lien can penetrate the homestead protection, allodial title holders are immune from these claims. Neither traditional homestead nor the new allodial title program will protect against debts acquired from general civil or criminal proceedings.
Another potential benefit would accrue to a property owner who secretly planned to do major physical improvements on his property that would ordinarily increase the property tax rate for the property significantly. If allodial title is established before the improvements begin, the owner will have pre-paid his lifetime property taxes at the pre-improvement valuation. Once the Trust Fund is established, it will not be increased, resulting in a boon for the allodial title holder. It should be noted that when computing the amount of the Trust Fund, the Treasurer factors in an actuarially estimated increase in value of the property and property tax due to improvements. On average, across all allodial title holders, this will ensure that very nearly the same amount of tax revenue will continue to accrue in the future to the counties regardless of how many people acquire allodial title. Those who never end up improving their property in their lifetime will end up paying more than they would have if they had not acquired allodial title; those who do a great deal of improvement to their properties after they acquire allodial title will end up ahead of the game.2
Some claimed benefits of Nevada's allodial title program are illusory. The statute makes it appear that whereas traditional homestead won't protect a property owner against foreclosure due to nonpayment of property taxes, allodial title will. A closer examination reveals that allodial title's protection from property tax debts is not really a protection, since to acquire allodial title a property owner must have already prepaid those property taxes for his lifetime.3 So what is the value in this “protection?” The taxes are already paid. Similarly, whereas conventional homestead won't protect a property owner against foreclosure for debts contracted for the purchase of the property itself (e.g. a mortgage), Nevada's allodial title law says that allodial title will give protection from those debts too. But since a property owner can't acquire allodial title until he has discharged all such property-related debts in the first place, and since he loses allodial title if he subsequently acquires any such debt, this statutory protection is meaningless. The allodial title protects the property owner from a kind of debt he cannot possibly have while simultaneously maintaining the allodial title. This is analogous to a health product that claims to protect you from disease . . . so long as you remain healthy.
An ambiguous provision in Nevada's Revised Statutes suggests that allodial title will offer protection from foreclosure due to debts “for legal taxes levied by state or local government” (NRS 115.010 (4)). Since Nevada has no state income tax, this passage means that the allodial title holder is protected from the only other significant state or local tax debts: property tax debt or sales tax debt. Since property taxes must be pre-paid for the owner's lifetime before allodial title can be secured, protection from nonpayment of property taxes is of no real value, as we have seen. Since sales taxes are paid incrementally at the time of purchase of the taxed item, a protection from a sales tax debt seems of very little value. Finally, in contradiction to the vague protections from state or local taxes cited above, a subsequent section of the law states directly the opposite: “Nothing in this chapter shall be so construed as exempting any real or personal property from sale for taxes” (NRS 115.080). The Nevada allodial title law is as vague and self-contradictory as the history of the concept of allodial title itself. As of this writing there is no case law to clarify these issues. One thing is certain though: neither a traditional homestead nor the new allodial title will protect the holder from the most likely source of tax related debt: federal income tax.
It is not clear whether allodial title would give the holder protection from state seizure via eminent domain. Indications are that it would not give such a protection.
Why Not Just Keep Your Own Trust Fund?
An obvious question comes to mind: if you must contribute enough money in a lump sum into a fund with the State Treasurer such that the proceeds of this fund will be able to pay your property taxes on your behalf for your entire lifetime, then why not keep the money, set up your own “trust fund” account, and pay your taxes yourself from the proceeds and principal of your own account? Is anything really achieved by Nevada's program doing it for you?
As we have seen, there are a few small but real advantages to actually acquiring allodial title, such as the expansion of the homestead exemption to cover the entire value of the property. In addition, some might argue that placing the money on account with the Treasurer protects a property owner from his own stupidity, since once established, he would thereafter be prevented from squandering that money and facing foreclosure. Arguments that begin by hypothetically assuming one's incompetence never seem very compelling in any case, but even this weak argument fails to provide any weight here since the Treasurer defines a simple procedure for the title holder to surrender allodial title and recover the unused money from the allodial title trust fund at will. The Trust Fund doesn't prevent the allodial title holder from grabbing the money back later, and again placing the property at risk for foreclosure.
Setting up the fund with the Treasurer does provide a guaranteed upper bound on the lifetime property tax bill. But as is the case with most upper bounds, though some will end up ahead, a great many people will end up paying more this way than if they had kept the money themselves.
A significant limitation with Nevada's allodial title program is that the title holder must surrender the allodial title and return to conventional title if he ever ceases to reside full time on the allodially titled property for more than a very short period of time. Thus the system seems appropriate only for those whose lives and circumstances are relatively stable, such as retired people. Further, only natural persons can acquire allodial title — corporations, partnerships, trusts and the like cannot participate in the program.
It is also far from clear whether the Allodial Title Trust Fund would survive a property owner's bankruptcy intact, or if the property owner would be forced to liquidate the fund to discharge debt. The intent of the law seems to be to prevent an allodial title holder from being forced to liquidate his Trust Fund; however, the easy “at will” revocability of allodial title to recover the unused portion of the Fund makes it an appealing target. Case law will decide this question in the coming years.
Will Heirs Benefit?
All of this might be worthwhile if the property tax cessation extended in perpetuity: if after paying the lump sum to acquire allodial title, the allodial title holder's heirs will continue to have "absolute title . . . without any obligation to a sovereign or government" for time immemorial, and this property could stay in the family forever, without any risk of confiscation due to unpaid property taxes. Of course, this is not the case. Nevada's allodial title vanishes upon the title holder's death. The heirs may apply to continue allodial title on the property (or even to be added to the title while the original title holder is still alive), but to gain or share allodial title they must pay another lump sum that is proportional to the property tax assessment and the life expectancy of those who will be listed as allodial title holders. The amount that must be added to the Trust Fund also reflects any improvements made to the property since the Fund was established.
Assessment of Nevada's Allodial Title System
The combined weight of these limitations render Nevada's allodial title system of very little practical value. Early indications are that the program is unpopular.
It certainly does not seem accurate to call this an "allodial title" system since nothing close to absolute title is actually being conveyed. A more appropriate name for the plan might be "lifetime property tax pre-payment option with homestead expansion."
The muddled result of the program is not surprising given the constraints placed upon the legislation at its creation. The counties were not going to give up any portion of their property tax revenue stream, even for the relatively small number of properties whose owners could afford to pay off their mortgage and prepay their expected lifetime property taxes. Therefore, the allodial title Trust Fund structure was devised to ensure that ongoing property tax payments would continue to be made — no longer by the individual property owner, but by the State Treasurer on the property owner's behalf, and with the property owner's money. The result is a system too limited to be of much good.
Would True Allodial Title Even be a Good Thing?
So far we have assumed that libertarians would favor a pure allodial land title system since it confers the greatest ownership rights to land with the least obligations to the state, including tax obligations. Somewhat surprisingly, this view is not shared by all libertarian factions. One libertarian theory called “geolibertarianism” contends that the only just tax is a tax on land (that is, on land only, not improvements). This tax is often called a land value tax (LVT). The essence of the geolibertarian position is this: a tax on any actual product of a person's labor is unjust since the right to self ownership is absolute. Raw land, however, is a natural resource which no person created and therefore to which all persons are entitled to an equal share to use or sell as they wish. The first part of the Lockean proviso that land ownership can simply be achieved by mixing labor with the land does apply as long as there is good land left unclaimed for others. But once it is no longer possible to leave “as much and as good” land for others to use, then some transfer is due to the rest of the population as compensation for an owner's exclusive use of the land. This compensation can be accomplished through a redistributive tax based on the value of land as derived from a market pricing mechanism.
Geolibertarianism is often associated with the economist/philosopher Henry George. John Locke is also cited as a proponent because of his proviso that those claiming land must leave “as much and as good” for subsequent claimants. Thomas Paine was a strong advocate of similar ideas, and more recently Milton Friedman had good things to say about the economic efficiency of the LVT. Murray Rothbard was an ardent recent opponent of geolibertarianism.
We are not specifically advocating geolibertarianism here, but since it is a well thought out libertarian land ownership and taxation theory that seriously questions even the desirability of the concept of allodial title, we will consider a few routine objections to it to encourage its consideration as a serious alternative. Whatever its defects as a philosophy, the most common criticisms leveled against geolibertarianism are unsophisticated and can be easily dismissed.
First, geolibertarianism does not oppose private ownership of land, and does not endorse exclusive government ownership of land. It merely asserts that all persons are entitled to a portion of natural resources, or failing that, compensation for the taking of their due portion of natural resources. Note also that “natural resources” here certainly does not include crops and the like that are produced from the land, but merely the value of the land itself.
Next, many opponents of geolibertarianism argue that any tax payment may require the initiation of force to implement and collect, and would therefore be unjust. Geolibertarians counter by pointing out that other libertarians readily accept the use of force for the collection of proper debts. Therefore the morality of the use of force to collect a LVT really rests upon the morality of the geolibertarian idea that all persons are due an equal share of the earth's land resources. If that concept is accepted as moral, then the collection of the LVT could itself be moral, even if it requires force.
We have traced the muddled history of the concept of allodial land title and found that it never meant what some modern advocates with anti-state inclinations claim it did: that is, an absolute, unencumbered ownership of land for a broad class of normal working people. When true allodial title existed in the past it existed only for short periods of time for limited classes of owners: kings and great lords, or conquerors and pioneers who left states too far behind to enforce either any more limited rights to the land or any more encumbering obligations along with it (if only for a while).
The concept of absolute, tax-free land ownership has undeniable appeal among those skeptical of the state. This appeal gives the concept traction in certain quarters, resulting in the interesting aberration of an attempted implementation of a variant of the concept in Nevada. Given the political realities, the Nevada implementation was a poor approximation of the allodial concept and is so costly and has so many restrictions that it it will not even succeed in increasing the security of small homesteads measurably.
Finally, proponents of geolibertarianism raise the broader question of whether it would even be desirable to attempt to eliminate the current rough analog of the LVT — the property tax — through the implementation of a true allodial title system. It can be argued that in the current state of affairs, a true allodial title system would have the effect of reducing tax revenues to governments, which would be a good thing, even if (as geolibertarians argue) the morally correct system would really be a single LVT replacing all other taxes. Conversely, it can be argued that an allodial title system that eliminated property taxes would merely displace that tax collection to other less economically efficient and less moral taxes, and therefore efforts to install allodial title systems should be avoided since they are both immoral and will not even have the beneficial side effect of reducing tax revenue and state power.
The entire Nevada State Treasurer's web page changed recently from the .state.nv.us domain to the .com domain without explanation. This is worth mentioning because any site in the .com domain purporting to be governmental is (rightfully) suspect; this site is authentic, however. A visit to http://allodial.state.nv.us will redirect the visitor to the nevadatreasurer.com site within a few clicks.
The program does contain a provision for paying a somewhat smaller initial amount into the Trust Fund to acquire allodial title if the property owner agrees to contribute further to the Trust Fund if improvements are later made to the property. This seems to eliminate one of the fundamental benefits of allodial title, however: security. If the property owner selects this option in order to pay less into the fund initially, and then makes improvements later on but then cannot pay the required additional amount into his Trust Fund, he will lose his allodial title and must resume paying property taxes. This places the property back at risk for foreclosure.
In some parts of the United States, Louisiana for example, homestead exemptions actually eliminate property taxes on the value of the exempted property. (Conventional homestead laws in most other states simply provide limited foreclosure protection for certain kinds of debts but offer no relief or protection from property tax debt.) Often the stated goal of programs like Louisiana's is to further the security of small homeowners and families. For low valued properties, these provisions may entirely eliminate property taxes for that property. This simple law probably does more to secure property ownership than any allodial title system like Nevada's ever will, and it seems to be the closest thing to actual allodial title currently in the United States. However, this is not a widespread feature of homestead laws, and even in the very few states where it applies the exemption value is low enough that the practical value is limited.