Thursday 14 December 2017

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Looming elections temper local council tax rises, but energy bills will go up


Property taxes for home owners will rise by an average 1.7% next year but in 25% of local authorities the tax will rise above the 3% limit, according to preliminary figures published by broadcaster RTL on Friday. The biggest rise will hit residents of the Groningen town of Haren, where property taxes (ozb) will rise 12.8%, or nearly €55 a year. Rises of over 10% will also hit the Brabant towns of Cuijk and Roosendaal. Towns which put up ozb taxes by more than 3% are not technically breaking the law because the limit applies to the national average, RTL pointed out. Rob Mulder, director of home owners lobby group Vereniging Eigen Huis told RTL that the modest rise in most places is down to next year's local council elections. 'Property taxes are an issue with voters,' he said. Meanwhile, economic affairs minister Erik Wiebes has confirmed that domestic energy bills will have risen by an estimated average of €175 a year by the end of this cabinet's four-year period in office. Next year, the increase will be €45 on average, Wiebes said. The increase is due to higher environmental taxes aimed at stimulating people to switch to alternative energy sources. 'The transition to new energy usage cost money,' Wiebes said.  More >

Amsterdam agrees huge new residential area

Amsterdam to build huge new residential area in western port Amsterdam city council's executive board has voted in favour of plans to develop a massive new residential district in the western port area of the city, which will approach the size of Haarlem or Leiden. Haven-Stad, as it will be called, will add between 40,000 and 70,000 new housing units and provide jobs for 45,000 to 58,000 people, the council said in a statement Haven-Stad will be four times the size of Amsterdam's largest expansion scheme to date - the eastern island developments of IJburg. It is planned to be a city of the future, and include schools, sports, recreation and cultural facilities as well as green space. Haven-Stad will be designed with the bicycle and public transport in mind, with few facilities for cars, the planners said. There will be mixed housing with 40% allocated to social rental properties and jobs will be created at new sustainable, high-technology, green industries expected to be attracted to the area. Unique 'It's really a unique project,' housing alderman Eric van der Burg told the Volkskrant. 'It will be a residential area in an industrial centre, overlooking the water.' The first phase of the development will take place next year, centred around the Sloterdijk railway station. More than 10,000 housing units will be built there within 10 years. But the city must have new metro or light rail links by then, Van der Berg said. 'The ring road in the West is already operating at full capacity. The money will have to come from The Hague, but the government has budgeted for public transport in the big cities,' he explained. Existing industries in the western port area - namely minerals handler Eggerding, grain transhipment company Bunge and fertilizers concern ICL- have an agreement to remain in the area until 2040. But there are plans to find alternative sites for these industries well before that date, the paper said.  More >

MPs begin marathon home owner tax debate

Housing MPs will on Tuesday take part in a marathon debate on the new government's plans to bring back a tax for home owners who have paid off their mortgages. In total, opposition MPs have requested more than 36 hours of debating time about the move to scrap a law which was brought in in 2005. Named after MP Hans Hillen who introduced the plan, the law exempted home owners from paying a tax known as the eigenwoningforfait over the value of their property. The eigenwoningforfait is currently paid by home owners with a mortgage and is based on the value of their property. It is seen as compensation for the tax break on mortgages which home buyers enjoy. However, its original aim was to tax the supposed benefits which home owners gain from owning their own house and not having to pay rent. Thirty years The new government now plans to phase out the Hillen law over 30 years from 2019, reintroducing the tax on home ownership for everyone. The government says this will raise €1bn for the treasury over 30 years. In order to make it to the statute books in time for the 2019 start, the plan must be approved by both houses of parliament before the end of this year. Opponents of the plan, including MPs from 50Plus and the populist PVV, aim to talk out the bill. The two parties have requested 900 and 1,200 minutes of debating time respectively - a tactic known in the US and Britain as a filibuster. 50Plus argues it is wrong to present people who have worked hard to pay off their mortgages with a bill, and describe the plan as bringing in a fine for being mortgage free.  More >