Council tax to double for 80 per cent of second homes

The Telegraph is reporting on the proposal to implement a proposal to double council tax rates for second homes in England, set to commence next year, is poised to impact a significant portion of second home owners across the country. Under the new rules introduced by Michael Gove, at least 153 local authorities are preparing to levy the increased tax, potentially affecting up to 130,000 homes. This measure is expected to generate a minimum of £215 million in revenue for councils, leading to substantial additional tax payments for affected property owners.

The move has sparked controversy, with critics accusing the government of waging a war on second homes. The elimination of tax relief for short-term holiday lets and the requirement for planning permission for such properties have added to the perceived targeting of second home owners. While the intention behind these measures is to address concerns about escalating house prices in holiday areas and to prioritize housing availability for local residents, opponents argue that second homes contribute to investment in seaside and rural communities.

The new levy will be particularly impactful in Cornwall, where approximately 12,679 second homes are expected to face double council tax rates. Similarly, areas like Herefordshire, Westmorland, Furness, South Hams, and Northumberland will see significant numbers of properties affected by the premium.

Local councils, both in tourist destinations and urban areas, are keen to implement the second home premium, citing reasons such as encouraging property owners to sell or rent out their homes and generating additional revenue for essential services. However, some voices caution against unfairly penalizing second home owners, many of whom are individuals seeking modest investments or planning for their retirement.

The increase in council tax rates for second homes is part of a broader trend of rising council tax bills across England. While the government emphasizes the importance of local decision-making in applying the premium, critics argue that councils are resorting to creative revenue-raising methods at the expense of taxpayers.

Despite delays in parliamentary proceedings, the changes are expected to come into effect in April 2025, pending the passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The overall rise in council tax bills reflects a significant increase since 2010, with average Band D bills now exceeding £2,500 in certain areas.

As the debate continues, the government emphasizes the need for local leaders to consider the impacts carefully when deciding whether to apply the council tax premium on second homes.

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