Tax hike for second home owners
SECOND home owners in Southwold and throughout the rest of Waveney could be hit in the pocket by a move to increase the council tax they pay.The district council's finance chiefs have been asked to bring forward proposals to "remove" the council tax discount from such properties, it emerged last night .
By David Green
SECOND home owners in Southwold and throughout the rest of Waveney could be hit in the pocket by a move to increase the council tax they pay.
The district council's finance chiefs have been asked to bring forward proposals to "remove" the council tax discount from such properties, it emerged last night .
Currently, second home owners have to pay only 50% of the council tax paid by those who only have one home.
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However, a new law allowing local authorities to reduce the council tax discount to as little as 10% comes in to force next April.
The move has been welcomed by protestors angry at a 18.5% rise in the bills faced by council tax payers in Suffolk.
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But an EADT investigation published last week disclosed that most of Suffolk's councils had not yet considered whether to take action – despite the prospect of a £2 million-a-year windfall.
However, the leader of Tory-run Waveney District Council, Peter Austin, issued a statement at the weekend saying he had asked finance officers to bring forward proposals for "removing" the council tax discount in respect of second homes.
Many properties in Southwold and some of the coastal villages are second homes and long-term residents say dramatic rises in value, aggravated by the tax advantages of owning a second home, means that local couples cannot get on to the property "ladder".
Mr Austin, who is one of Southwold's district councillors and a member of the town council, said he believed it was unfair that Waveney's council taxpayers had to subsidise second and holiday homeowners in the district.
"The indications are that Government will continue to use council tax to penalise pensioners, working people and those on low and fixed incomes when setting next year's rate.
"We will do all within our power to minimise any rise from Waveney District Council and offset some of this punitive burden," he said.
There are 1,349 second or holiday homes in the Waveney district.
These could generate up to an extra £500,000 a year if the council tax discount was reduced from 50% to 10%.
Suffolk as a whole is thought to have 4,987 second homes and reducing the tax discount on them to 10% could bring in an additional £1.99 million per year, reducing the burden on other taxpayers.
Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole has spoken of his "surprise" that local authorities had not shown more enthusiasm in taking up the powers they had requested.