Tax Houses Now
Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. Or in this case, a graph. This one shows the economic benefits derived from housing for different income bands:
The graph is from an excellent new report from Shelter, Rethinking Housing Taxation, launched at a seminar earlier this week. It shows that middle England loses out in a very big way. The poorest get significant support in the form of subsidised council housing or housing benefit. The well-off do very well from exemption to capital gains tax for principal private residences. Housing taxation is seen as the 'third rail' of British politics - touch it and you get fried. But as well as avoiding the injustice of people, not all of them MPs, benefiting from 'flipping' their second and principal homes, levying capital tax on main homes would raise about £6.5 billion a year - three times the cost of Sure Start, or almost the entire schools budget.
There will always be those who say that the politics of taxing property cannot be made to work: it's too complex, and the politics are too difficult. But if not now, after a property-fuelled boom and catastrophic bust; if not now when the cascade of wealth down the generations is about to widen; if not now when every option for tax needs to be considered; if not now when politics and economics are in flux - if not now, then when?