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8 March 2012

Balls backs a mansion tax

Shadow chancellor offers qualified support for new tax.

By George Eaton

Ed Balls has used an interview with the BBC’s Nick Robinson to offer his (qualified) support for a mansion tax. “If the Chancellor wants to go down that road then I will support him,” he said.

However, he reiterated that Labour did not want to see it introduced as a direct replacement for the 50p tax rate. The purpose of a mansion tax should be “to help families facing higher tuition fees, higher VAT or higher fuel bills,” he argued.

Intriguingly, he also echoed the concerns of some on the right, declaring that “you can’t have people being thrown out of their homes because they can’t afford to pay the tax”.

It’s a point we rebut in our leader this week, which calls for the burden of taxation to be shifted from income to wealth.

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Opponents of a mansion tax complain that it would penalise the equity-rich but income-poor and force some pensioners to sell their family homes. Yet this is little more than sentimentalism and special pleading. There is no good reason for the elderly to occupy valuable houses that are far too large for them and that they cannot afford to maintain.

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