Homeownership Investment and Tax Neutrality: a joint assessment of income and property taxes in Europe

Publication type:

EUROMOD Working Paper Series

Series Number:

EM17/19

Authors

Francesco Figari, Gerlinde Verbist and Francesca Zantomio

Publication date

16 Sep 2019

Abstract

Western countries’ income tax systems exempt the return from investing in owner-occupied housing. Returns from other investments are instead taxed, thus distorting households’ portfolio choices, although it is argued that housing property taxation might act as a counterbalance. Based on data drawn from the Statistics of Income and Living Conditions and the UK Family Resources Survey, and building on tax-benefit model EUROMOD, we provide novel evidence on the interplay of income and property taxation in budgetary, efficiency and equity terms in eight European countries. Results reveal that, even accounting for recurrent housing property taxation, a sizeable ‘homeownership bias’ i.e. a lighter average and marginal taxation for homeownership investment, is embedded in current tax systems, and displays heterogeneous distributional profiles across different countries. Housing property taxation represents only a partial correction towards neutrality.

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