Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where is Fairhope located?
A: Fairhope is located in southwest Alabama on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay.
Q: When was Fairhope established?
A: Fairhope was established in 1894, and was incorporated into a city.
Q: Why is Fairhope called a Single Tax Colony?
A: The people who established Fairhope wanted to create a community that would, as best they could, implement the theories of economist and social activist Henry George. George wanted government to tax the full rental value of land, the value of which is created by community improvements and not by labor or invested capital. He felt that if the full rental value of land were taxed (including minerals under the land) that all other taxes could be abolished, thus becoming the single tax. Others termed his theories the “Single Tax,” and the name stuck.
Q: Does Fairhope really practice the single tax theory as proposed by Henry George?
A: Henry George wanted his land tax theories to be implemented in the country as a whole, and never intended for them to be applied in a single community. Thus the founders of Fairhope had to make some adjustments to make it work. In the early years of the Single Tax Corporation the effort was closer to the single tax theory, but the Alabama Constitution prohibits a property tax just on land and not improvements. Today people leasing land from the Single Tax Corporation, and pay rent that includes their state and local property tax on land and buildings, a “demonstration fee” for community improvements that is based just on the value of the land, and an administrative fee for the administrative costs.
Q: Is the entire City of Fairhope owned by the Single Tax Corporation?
A: No. The Single Tax Corporation owns about 20% of Fairhope. FSTC land includes the downtown area, adjacent historic neighborhoods, and land east of the city limits. About 4,400 acres is owned by the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation.
Q: Must one join the Single Tax Corporation to buy a house on colony land?
A: No, lessees of FSTC land are not required to join, but they are welcome to.
Q: How does one become a member of the Single Tax Corporation?
A: To become a member of the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation one must take a course on Henry George and the Single Tax, submit an application and petition signed by three current FSTC members, pay $100 membership fee, and be voted upon by the Directors of the Single Tax Corporation.
Q: If I buy a house on colony land, do I have full control over what I can do with the land?
A: Everyone buying a house on Colony land is required to attend an orientation session, where they are informed that although they own the house, they are only leasing the land. What they can do with the land is limited both by the lease, and by the zoning code of the City of Fairhope. The lease, for example, reserves mineral rights for the Single Tax Corporation, and lessees may not operate a dirt pit, selling dirt to others.
Q: Do I pay rent to the Single Tax Corporation and taxes to the state, county, and local governments?
A: The rent paid by lessees to the Single Tax Corporation includes taxes that are due to state and local governments. The FSTC office forwards it on to the appropriate state or local agency for you. In addition to the state and local taxes due, an amount is added to your rent to cover the costs of administering the FSTC office (the “administration fee”), and an amount to be used for community improvements, to demonstrate the usefulness of the single tax concept (the “demonstration fee”).
Q: What is the demonstration fee used for?
A: The demonstration fee funds projects that benefit the community, such as parks, sidewalk improvements, the public library, etc. See Current Projects of the Single Tax Corporation for a listing or recent projects receiving funding.
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