Capital Gains Tax side-effects

June 3rd, 2010 by

From the Telegraph:

Britain’s biggest building society issued a veiled warning to the coalition government that its plans to raise capital gains tax (CGT) may put the partial recovery in house prices at risk.

Buy to let and other landlords now own more than one in seven British homes or 15 per cent of the property in the private sector, according to Nationwide. Government plans to double the CGT landlords pay from its current fixed rate of 18 per cent to “closer” to 40 per cent, could cause many to sell and force prices down.

You know, in a more sensible world we’d be reading that as a two-for-one bonus, not as a terrible death-knell side effect. Buy-to-let speculative investment is distorting the housing market; anything which calms it down is all to the good.

We don’t expect government policies to make the price of used cars depreciate less drastically. We don’t expect government intervention to stabilise the antiques market, or tax policies carefully tailored to make unit trusts continue to burgeon. We are happy to see industrial or commercial property firms humbled by the shifting economic vagaries of the market. But put your money in residential property, and it seems the safety of your investment is the concern of every economist in the country.

There’s something a bit weird there.

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