Daylight robbery?

in News · 04-08-2016 13:47:00 · 14 Comments

More than three hundred years ago, King William III introduced a window tax across Great Britain where people were taxed according to the amount of daylight entering their homes. As a result, many windows were bricked up, and remain so to this day, as homeowners fought against what is thought to have inspired the term ‘Daylight Robbery’.

Now in 2016, the Portuguese government has found a new, but arguably similar way of taxing houses, with the amount of exposure to the sun and views, being the cornerstone of a new council tax which it says is aimed at making the country more “socially just”.

According to Law Decree number 41 of 2016, published on Tuesday, a good view and a south-facing house could see homeowners face substantial increases in their council tax bills. Homes with decent views and which maximise solar exposure could be subject to an increase in council tax rates of up to 20 percent.

On the other hand, houses facing cemeteries, which are north-facing or on the bottom floors of an apartment block could see a drop in council tax of up to 10 percent.

Noise pollution will also play a role, but essentially the less light a house receives in the day, the less tax its occupants will have to pay.

State Secretary for Finance Rocha Andrade has said the revision is not to gain additional revenue, but rather to tax people according to the homes and luxuries they enjoy.

“Our objective is firstly to introduce greater fiscal equity”, said Rocha Andrade this week upon the release of details of the new law, adding: “This will allow us to reflect, with greater accuracy, the effective variations in current house prices.”

But there has been strong opposition against the move.

Opposition parties to the right have argued that this is just another form of austerity being imposed on the middle class by the leftist government.

The Association of Lisbon Homeowners (ALP) has also criticised the move, saying the new council tax variations will result in “values that are unbearable.”

In comments to Lusa News Agency, ALP President Luís Menezes Leitão said this is yet another negative surprise by the government, which he accused of targeting homeowners in order to line the depleted coffers of councils across the country.

“This law makes no sense whatsoever. People are paying tax on something that generates no profit. These are people’s homes and many of them could now face not being able to pay these new taxes” argued the ALP President.

He added that homeowners, especially those with large mortgages, did not initially bank on huge increases in council taxes when opting to a buy a home they thought they could afford.

But the tax revision will not be immediate.

The new council tax will only be applied on new homes or when a property is re-evaluated.

In comments to DN/Dinheiro Vivo, a leading property surveyor argued that most homes in Portugal have in recent decades been built to maximise solar exposure for energy reasons.

“Now we are going to be penalised for doing what we thought was the right thing?” João Fonseca questioned.

He further queried the subjectivity of an evaluation, saying two identical properties could be evaluated very differently by two different inspectors, depending on their own personal assessment of how good a view is and how much sunlight the occupants of a house enjoy.

National Homeowners’ Association (ANP) President António Frias Marques also argued that most homes will see their council tax rates increase as a result of the new tax on sunlight.

Councils can order a re-evaluation of a home whenever they deem the taxable value to be out of touch with reality, with the ANP chief predicting inspectors will not take too much time before taking to the streets for widespread assessments in order to increase property values for council tax purposes.


And I was going to invest in a beautiful bright apartment full of sunshine in the centre of Lisbon!!! Now I wonder if the price had something to do with this new law!! Will look elsewhere! Goodbye Portugal.. Hello sunshine!

By Anna M from Other on 16-12-2016 09:57

The amount of bad and partial journalism this "newspaper" makes will never cease to surprise me...

By Manuel from Other on 08-08-2016 09:11

I live in the mountain region of Caramulo. Who is to judge I have a more pleasant view than some? Which Van Gogh individual are they going to drag out of the Camara to assess my view against a kaleidoscope of others in the country and therefore level an appropriate fee? I'd much prefer a waterfront view with boats paddling by whilst eating small triangular sandwiches under the balmy shade of a willow tree...Oh well back to Oxford-on-the-Thames then where I know what I get for my £200 a month council tax.................bins empties once a year, pot holes and rising crime.......bliss !

By Mac Ka from Other on 08-08-2016 12:27

This government is leading the country into the same place the last socialist government did spending money it doesn't have in order to make it self look good and buy votes. They have decided that they are going to tax the sun. Do they own the sun or daylight now?
Down with SUN TAX!

By peter from Alentejo on 07-08-2016 02:10

"Thou shalt not steal" implies the concept of private property, which should be respected, especially regarding laws. The government should stay out of people's homes.

By Alan Silva from USA on 06-08-2016 10:14

The kind of thing 'Comrade Jeremy' & his Momentum Guards would suggest.

By from Algarve on 06-08-2016 03:24

I come from Holland. There was also in the past tax fore the sunlight. Many houses in Amsterdam have small windows. When people from Amsterdam tell the tourist, about that situation they reacted mostly : " How is it possible that somebody come on this grazy idea ? I will write this story on Facebook, and I think that er come many negative reacties. In Portugal wy pay the same Tax than in Holland, but the people earn two times more money than te Portugees people.

By Yvonne Koster from Algarve on 06-08-2016 02:54

What if we spend months in complete darkness trying to block out the heat, Do we get a multi part assessment to factor in the misery of cave like living?

By Deb from Alentejo on 06-08-2016 02:22

The government should spend more time trying to attract business and investment to the country and less time thinking of idiotic ways to raise money. Grow the country don't try and strangle it.

By Ray lehky from Lisbon on 06-08-2016 10:16

Portuguese governments never fail to amaze me! I think there is a total lack of professionalism in their government ministers and they just don,t know how to put a fair and just tax system together. Why on earth, should you penalise people because their houses have a better aspect?

This will affect the property owners themselves also. If you happen to be the property owner of a property that was rented under the "old rental provisions", this is another blow. Rents are already dictated by the state and in effect, Portugal does not have an independent private rental system, as rents are so heavily controlled by the state.

By David from Porto on 06-08-2016 08:14

This is an absolute disgrace. We are all struggling to pay expenses with our already high charges, and now THIS?
Rather tax the rich people more, they can afford it.

By Kathleen Pereira from Algarve on 05-08-2016 07:44

Will the last one to leave the country please turn off the sunlight.

By Apollo from Algarve on 05-08-2016 06:34

Hilarious! This government has promoted solar exposure in homes as being more energy efficient & already made EPC certificates at inflated cost the law before allowing the sale or rental of a property! Now they are going to penalise people for the amount of sun that shines on their properties! Sunshine is a free commodity, however this ridiculous government thinks otherwise ! Speechless!

By Julia from UK on 05-08-2016 10:41

How come one always feel the urge to check if the date is April 1st, when reading about Portuguese fiscal rules and regulations?

By Amazed from Other on 05-08-2016 10:35
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