Household Property Taxes: an Uncompleted Reform

André Babeau * Professeur des Universités. Contact :

The more favorable treatment recently granted to household financial assets (repeal of the solidarity tax on wealth (ISF) and the creation of the flat withholding tax (PFU)) certainly does not make it possible to attain the goal that had been set out for these measures (improved financing of business equity capital). There are certainly many reasons for the reservations households have about stocks in our country. Moreover, the virtual abolition of the housing tax puts local governments in a delicate situation concerning the financing of spending, even when curbed. Consequently, in both instances, the feeling that these are temporary solutions remains. To begin with, the proposal is made, in the era of “big data,” to turn to an adapted form of modeling in order to calculate the rental or market values of a building “whose worth can't be estimated”. In order to come closer to European practice, the tax on real estate wealth (IFI) could then be replaced with a reasonably progressive schedule of property taxes, which of course would remain quite inadequate for balancing the budgets of local government. It would therefore be necessary to resort to other resources. Concerning income from property, for tax purposes it is often treated in Europe as income resulting from financial assets. Therefore, both for rents and for real estate capital gains, using the PFU would have the advantage of being simple and fair. A lasting, more unfavorable treatment of income from property could moreover eventually have negative effects on the maintenance of our housing stock and its growth. To increase transfers between age groups, we also advocate encouraging early donations on the basis of full ownership. Finally, to facilitate financing the equity capital of our companies, we suggest a means that is certainly more effective than the IFI: opening a new stage in regard to capitalized retirement, both individual and collective.

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