Magazine article Public Finance


Magazine article Public Finance


Article excerpt

A fairer way to tax property

Public Finance has done well in stimulating the 'post-Lyons' debate and Steve Freer has called on local government to seize the initiative (Comment, May 18-24). But are we local government professionals and politicians alike missing a vital trick by failing to think outside the box?

Both we and ministers are understandably very cautious about bringing our major source of independent income, council tax, up to date and making it fairer and more efficient, as Sir Michael Lyons and others have suggested.

This is not surprising, as without strong rebalancing of council tax bands on high value properties, even modest inflation will ensure that there will be more losers than winners.

However, if we look outside the local government box, there are other property taxes that have become increasingly lucrative in recent years, but also have the very deleterious side-effects of seriously undermining personal mobility and enterprise.

I refer to the taxes on buying and selling houses - most inhibiting whether you are a young executive planning to move house to pursue better opportunities, or an older person thinking of downsizing. …

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