Lib Dem members back Vince’s ‘mansion tax’ – but views differ about whether on house values of £1m or £2m

by Stephen Tall on February 14, 2012

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 570 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

81% yes to mansion tax – but pretty even split on £1m or £2m levy value

LDV asked: The ‘mansion tax’ would levy a 1% annual charge on properties above a certain value. Would you support or oppose this new tax?

    7% – I support: for houses worth more than £5 million
    39% – I support: for houses worth more than £2 million
    35% – I support: for houses worth more than £1 million
    15% – I oppose the ‘mansion tax’
    4% – Don’t know / No opinion

In total, 81% of Lib Dem members in our survey back some form of mansion tax. However, the level at which the tax should be levied provides a more varied response. £1m was the value originally proposed by Vince Cable when he sprung the policy on the 2009 Lib Dem conference; it was later revised upwards to £2m after the ensuing internal row, and that was the proposal in the party’s 2010 manifesto.

Here’s a sample of your comments:

The property ‘market’ has been insane for a decade – anything that helps bring ‘values’ back to reasonable levels is intrinsically a good thing.

I’ve said £2 million because of the wide regional variation in house prices. A local variation index could be introduced to level it out, in which case a £1 million levy would best represent many areas outside the South East.

A progressive income tax with higher rates for larger incomes remains the best way of fairly raising revenue.

Political dynamite for us in the London area

£2M is a value which would tax a great many of the wealthy but would also mitigate somewhat against the argument that this tax will be applied to a large number of ‘average people’ who happen to live in expensive areas in the South East.

I tend to oppose it because if there is to be further property taxation we should start with LVT not this halfway house bugger’s muddle.

Support – as long as the tax can be “rolled over” to be paid on sale of the house and if the threshold is varied regionally or locally according to local house prices. A £1m house in Doncaster is a mansion, in Twickenham it’s a three-bed semi.

I’m afraid that property taxes like this are a gimmick. Like taxing windows or chimneys. Tax should be based on income and the ability to pay and not property.

I support extra bands in council tax – which is what this policy approximates – but with an immediate re-valuation of property. It is ridiculous to be basing one of the most unequal taxes in the country on 20-year-old prices, and even more ridiculous that someone in a mansion often pays the same as someone in an ordinary family home.

I’m not sure how this would work in practice? Why not a general land value tax? I’m not sure ‘mansion tax’ sends the right message either. The phrase seems to be based on envy, rather than on fairness.

Needs to take account on individual circumstances. Forcing people out of their homes is a bad idea.

I don’t understand the argument that some poor, penniless families in London just happen, by bad luck, to live in £2m+ homes and therefore the mansion tax is bad. If you live in a house worth £2m+ and are penniless then sell your house!

This should be set based on economic efficiency and by looking at the people living in the households and the money they already pay/whether their wealth is subject to any other tax. Taxes should not be set by what feels right, or what makes the best headline.

Only as a temp measure while Land Value Taxation is brought in

At the moment the government needs to get up to at least 0 on their year-by-year balance sheets. Therefore every little bit of tax on the rich will help. The mansion tax is potentially useful, but not as useful as other taxes, therefore I support but only for stupidly expensive houses (i.e. more than £5million)

  • Over 1,200 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. Some 570 responded to the latest survey, which was conducted between 31st January and 4th February.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past accurately predicted the winners of the contest for Party President, and the result of the conference decision to approve the Coalition agreement.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.