Theresa May is making an ill thought through attempt to address complaints that it’s Johnny Foreigner who buys up all British housing thus making it too expensive. The idea is that there would be an extra tax on such Johnny Foreigners. Except, well, you’re not allowed to do that. At least, you’re not if we remain in the EU:
Foreign buyers of properties in the UK will have to pay a new levy, in a renewed attempt by Theresa May to tackle the housing crisis.
With concern growing among senior Tories that the party has allowed Brexit to drown out a compelling domestic agenda, plans unveiled on Saturday night will see foreign buyers pay extra stamp duty to fund a drive to tackle rough sleeping.
So how would this work in detail?
The exact increase in stamp duty, which will be paid by individuals and companies not paying tax in the UK,
Not something you can do. The European Union insists upon the four freedoms, the freedoms of movement of capital, labour, companies and people. Having different tax rates for people doing the same thing is in violation of those freedoms.
Sure, you can have a tax upon people buying through a company not as individuals – or vice versa of course. But that has to apply to Brits and non-Brits. You can have different taxes for second and holiday homes, buy to let, and we do. But you cannot distinguish between EU citizens by saying that if you pay other taxes here then it’s this rate, if you don’t then it’s that.
And much of this extends to EFTA members too.
Sure, there’s the obvious solution, get on with Brexit and we can do this. But a little challenge, observe the Remoaners who praise this idea and don’t realise they can’t have both….