Relieve tax burden for single homeowners

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Relieve tax burden for single homeowners

Home-owners are turning nervy amid delays in the downward revision in comprehensive real estate taxation. Revised bills on comprehensive property ownership tax and the special taxation act have been put to the National Assembly Strategy and Finance Committee. But the bill review and approval could not take place as the majority Democratic Party (DP) members boycotted a full meeting of the committee to reject the so-called tax cuts for the rich.

A bill can move onto the further stage for legislation when a resolution is made with the quorum of half of the standing committee members. Of 26 members of the Strategy and Finance Committee, however, only 10 are from the governing People Power Party (PPP).

The keystone of the revision is to lift the threshold for exemption in the surcharge for expensive property to 1.4 billion won ($1 million) of appraised value of a property from the previous 1.1 billion won. The revision also proposes to defer the tax for an elderly citizen who plans to gift or sell their single home. The revision also includes an exemption of the tax when one temporarily becomes a two-home owner through inheritance or while between moving. The new measures are aimed for practical easing of tax burdens.

The bill has already passed the deadline of Aug. 20 set by the National Tax Service. The Strategy and Finance Committee could not hold a meeting because of a wrangling between rivaling parties over the chair of the taxation subcommittee. The tax office will be receiving exemption applications from Sept. 16. If amendments are not made by then, taxpayers will be getting tax bills under the previous terms. As many as 500,000 taxpayers could be affected.

The DP defines the bill as a tax favor for the rich and opposes raising the threshold for exemption up to 1.4 billion won. In a press conference, the DP members denounced the government and PPP for seeking an outright tax cut for the rich.

The DP is shameless to frame single homeowners as the rich, because home prices skyrocketed from repeated policy failures under the previous administration. Taxpayers subject to the heavy comprehensive tax reached 1 million by the end of last year. In Seoul, six out of 10 subject to the tax are living in a single home without any relevance to speculation. Many of them are senior citizens and retirees who had lived in the same house and have no regular income.

The DP had admitted to real estate policy failure. The party had promised to ease punitive taxation during the last local elections. Now that the election has ended, it opposes an easing in the tax. The damage goes to taxpayers. The opposition must stop with its selfish politics and tend to public livelihood.
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