Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (221)

Richard Bruton


337 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider introducing concessions to older persons who wish to move to smaller accommodation; if he will consider introducing a stamp duty concession to such persons; if he will consider an exemption from capital gains tax where a house has been used as a principle private residence for at least ten years prior to its sale by the person concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1857/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Finance)

If tax concessions were introduced for older persons wishing to trade down, it would have the effect of increasing the supply of larger — and generally more expensive — houses relative to demand. This would be of benefit to people at the top end of the market. However, the demand for property relative to supply at the lower end of the market would increase and this would adversely affect first-time buyers, in particular, who would have to compete for such houses with a larger number of people consequently. Persons trading down normally have the cash upfront to pay for smaller houses and would have no stamp duty liability on a new house or a small liability on a second hand property.

It should also be noted that people trading down can already avail of the principal private residence relief which is a substantial exemption from capital gains tax. If the house has been occupied for the full period of ownership, full exemption applies. Otherwise, the relief granted is in proportion to the period of occupation over the entire period of ownership. This relief, combined with the capital sum received on the sale, means that most older people with large homes already have sufficient financial incentive to trade down.

I consider these reliefs to be sufficiently generous and appropriate and accordingly, I have no plans to introduce further concessions for any category of individual wishing to trade down.