James Forsyth

The taxing question Labour can’t answer

The taxing question Labour can't answer
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The details of Labour’s mansion tax proposal remain, to put it politely, sketchy. Here’s the exchange between Andrew Neil and Sadiq Khan on the Sunday Politics on how Labour would work out which homes are worth more than two million pounds:

AN: Do you rule out a re-evaluation of all properties?

SK: There are a number of options to look into.

AN: Do you rule out a re-evaluation?

SK: If it meant those hardworking people having to pay more council tax then obviously it would be something we wouldn’t want to do, but there a number of ways of doing this, Andrew, for example, you could have a one pence levy on those whose properties are worth more than £2 million, for example, the Lib Dems have suggested having a 7% stamp duty on those whose properties are above £2 million and you’ve just given a third option which is re-evaluation of council tax bands.

AN; And everybody’s council tax will go up?


SK: That’s the concern about that option, and that’s why rather than simply saying today it will be in our Manifesto, no matter what, what we’ll do is we’ll do the work between now and the next General Election, we’ll see if we can afford it and then that will be our aspiration.

What’s striking about Khan’s answers is that he appears to be suggesting that higher stamp duty, which is not an annual levy but a one-off tax, could suffice. So, according to this member of the shadow Cabinet, Labour isn’t committing to a mansion tax but rather just more property taxes.

For Labour’s announcement to be credible, they have to be able to answer the question about how they’ll determine which houses are worth more than two million pounds. Until they can, this’ll be a gesture not a policy.