'We are going to tax the rich'
A NEW "tax the rich" reform of council tax exemptions will earn Plymouth about £1million a year and bring empty homes back into use.
The changes, approved by members of the city council yesterday, will remove the 10 per cent discount on second homes and charge the full council tax.
Properties having major repairs will have to pay 50per cent council tax as long as the property remains in that state, up to the maximum period of one year.
The 100per cent discount on empty properties will be cut from six months to one month.
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Homes left empty for more than two years will face a 50 per cent premium, meaning their owners will have to pay 150per cent council tax.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: "We are going to tax the rich and those better able to pay."
Opposition leader Cllr Vivien Pengelly (Con, Plymstock Dunstone) called on Cllr Evans to make an exception for homes left empty because of a death.
She said it could take a year to deal with probate, leaving the inheritor with a big bill for council tax through no fault of their own.
Cllr Ted Fry (Con, Compton) said: "This is a good idea. We have too many empty houses in Plymouth."
The changes will come into effect on April 1.
Councillors were told that national welfare reform changes would hit council tax collection rates by about £1million a year.
"The proposed recommendations would provide more opportunity for local authorities to set council tax levels more appropriately for its citizens by relieving the burden of council tax in relation to second homes and empty properties, where the authority felt that properties receiving this relief did not merit it," a report said.