Sonia McEntee

Three strikes – are we out?

The Budget announced new provisions to withdraw property-related tax incentives. Before being introduced, an assessment will be carried out to look at the impact. The question is will it take into account the impact on NAMA bound properties as well as the full extent of unsold tax-incentive properties across the country.

There really is so much more at stake here than a populist withdrawal of tax-relief from individuals. High-earners already had the annual benefits of these reliefs curtailed dramatically. If the changes are enacted, we will see many of the ’elite’ property owning class find themselves in a situation where they simply cannot re-pay mortgages.
Now, many landlords are facing further rent reductions, further hikes in interest rates and most likely reduced earnings as well. You would imagine that the only other thing that could possibly go wrong is for the tax relief to be withdrawn. But there’s more. If the ability to pass on the tax relief to a new purchaser within the original tax-life of the property is also withdrawn, this will have a further significantly detrimental effect.
Who else will suffer?

Oh yes, the Exchequer, i.e. We the taxpayers. While the value of the reliefs may be saved (and this is a declining value every year as reliefs are exhausted), there will be:
reduced stamp duty payments,
reduced flow of VAT from sales of new properties,
no corporation tax, and
no capital gain tax as everyone in the supply chain loses money.
Hopefully the assessment will take full account of these figures too.

Secondly, we’ll suffer even further as many of these properties find their way into NAMA, never to recover even close to what they cost.

And thirdly, we’ll suffer even further, as the banks that we own, take massive further losses on small landlords. Even Joan Burton, one of few politicians fully on top of their brief at all times, fails to see that many of her own constituent class took this route as well.

So three strikes – can we recover from that? There are currently over 300,000 vacant housing units in the country. Is there any glimmer of hope at all?? Remember the closing of the stamp duty loophole for developers? Back in 2007? The one that was, well, never actually closed…

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