The report provides a detailed comparison and assessment of housing taxes across OECD countries. It shows that many countries still levy recurrent property taxes on outdated property values, even though this reduces revenue and fairness. A number of countries continue to rely heavily on transaction taxes, despite their potential impact on residential and labour mobility. A majority of countries fully exempt capital gains on main residences, while other forms of tax relief for owner-occupied housing, in particular mortgage interest relief, are provided in many countries, even though they have been found to be regressive and ineffective at raising homeownership rates.
The report offers a number of policy options for governments to consider, while emphasising the importance of reforms being considered in the context of the overall tax policy mix. To increase efficiency in the housing market and improve equity, the report suggests that countries could strengthen the role of recurrent taxes on immovable property, notably by ensuring that they are based on regularly updated property values, while lowering housing transaction taxes.
Countries could also consider reducing or capping certain tax incentives, such as mortgage interest relief for owner-occupied housing, to strengthen progressivity, limit distortions and reduce upward pressure on house prices. In most cases, encouraging the supply of housing and promoting the more efficient use of existing housing stock is likely to have a greater impact on housing affordability.
With the residential sector accounting for 17% of energy-related CO2 emissions, the report suggests that the tax system has a role to play in reducing emissions, but recommends improved targeting of tax incentives for energy efficient housing renovations to ensure relief reaches low-income households.