Fiscal & Budget
Jul 01, 2021
Property Tax: No More Vacancy Exemptions
The current economic and financial crises in Lebanon require reconsideration for how policymakers approach land and its management. To date, built-property is considered an income-generating asset and consequently only profits reaped from the exploitation or sale of this commodity are taxed. Similarly, financial regulations have incentivized investment in land, favoring its role as an asset where wealth can be stored. In both cases, the role of land as a basic ingredient for improving livelihoods or enhancing production is compromised. As the Lebanese look for options to reignite a failing economy, we argue in this brief that property taxation needs to be used to influence social policy and economic decisions positively. We show that the current practice of exempting vacant built property from taxes undermines the vital contributions the built environment could play to boost the economy. Therefore, we recommend revoking those tax exemptions and reintroducing taxes on all built property, irrespective of the occupancy status, within a progressive scale that accounts for hardship cases.