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City Councilor calls for fairer housing distribution in Taipei

City Councilor calls for fairer housing distribution in Taipei

On Monday Taipei City Councilor Wang Hung-wei accused the municipal government of deception in its claims that it is working to ensure equitable home ownership in the city. Wang pointed out that there is one person in Taipei who owns a startling total of 59 residences in the city, and there are some 13,000 people who own four or more residences in the city. Wang said that Taipei should consider levying a housing tax or a progressive tax rate that would discourage such ‘hoarding’ in the city and help to achieve a better distribution of housing for residents.

Taipei Vice Mayor Chang Chin-oh conferred recently with Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford to discuss a joint housing plan on how to achieve a fairer distribution of residences in the city, including differential tax rates for houses occupied by the owner and those that are empty or rented out to others. Chang noted that in order to achieve a ratio of 15 to 10 times annual average salaries for housing in the city it would be necessary to force housing prices in Taipei to drop by 30% in the next two years.

Wang Hung-wei cited statistics showing that 82% of Taipei residents own only one house while 13% own two and 2.84% own three residences. She said that a total of 7240 people own four houses while 2771 have five houses and 1229 have six. 579 people own seven residences and1241 have eight, and she said there is one entity that holds title to a total of 673 houses.

Wang called the government’s claim that it is fighting for more equality in home ownership a sham. She believes the tax rate on non-owner-occupied housing should be increased from 1.2% to 3.6%, a hike that she claimed would be ‘painless’ for most people with large real estate holdings. She suggests that Taipei look into imposing a progressive tax rate with heavy taxes that would dissuade real estate speculators from hoarding property in the city.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said that the city will conduct a comprehensive study to understand the situation for ownership of multiple dwellings, noting that it would need to be carried out without violating laws that guarantee personal privacy protection. Hau said that if hoarding of houses is in fact going on and there is reasonable grounds he might support the idea of a progressive tax, perhaps one similar to what is used in determining income taxes.