Vacant homes tax

 

Sir, – The recent call by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (suggested in communication to the Fine Gael parliamentary party and councillors) to examine the introduction of a new vacant homes tax is apt and the Government should follow the lead of international examples to adopt such a tax.

The prospect of using fiscal policy to reduce vacancy is enticing given the estimated potential reservoir of approximately 245,000 (already built) vacant homes as per Census 2016.

The previous impetus surrounding a vacant homes tax in the 2016-17 period was effectively stalled by the publication of the Indecon Report on such taxation, which questioned its potential effectiveness.

However, the report did not take enough account of the example of France where “Taxing Vacant Dwellings: Can Fiscal Policy Reduce Vacancy?”, authored by Mariona Segu (Université Paris-Sud) and Benjamin Vignolles (Paris School of Economics), demonstrated the effectiveness of such taxation to reduce vacancy rates.

The recent example of Vancouver’s “empty homes tax” would be relevant in the context of illustrating particularly how to tackle empty apartment units here and the channelling of funds raised through taxation into affordable housing provision.

The Peter McVerry Trust included the suggestion of a vacant homes tax in its pre-Budget 2020 submission, as a “toolkit” for local authorities to bring vacant properties back into use for social housing, and the Government should act promptly to follow this proposed model without further hesitation. – Yours, etc,

Cllr JOHN

KENNEDY,

(Fine Gael),

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

County Council Offices,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.