In a new report, the National Audit Office of Denmark criticizes the Danish tax agency for over-taxation of properties. According to the audit office, three out of four properties have been wrongly evaluated. The overtaxation on top on already-high taxes risks keeping young people from buying property and starting families.
A new report has shocked Denmark. According to it, 41% of all properties in Denmark have been overtaxed. Incidences like those make it very difficult to trust a tax agency, especially since Danes already suffer from one of the world’s highest tax burdens (49% of GDP is used on governmental spending). For property taxes alone, an average homeowner in some of the wealthier municipalities pays about DKK 45,000 (6,000 EUR) a year.
This is, simply put, a scandal. And while it hits property owners the hardest, high property taxes also lead to both higher rent rates and prevents young people from buying property. This is a problem on a multitude of levels. First of all, there is the risk that the public stipend of around 5,000 DKK (670 EUR) monthly to Danish students, which is already among the highest in the world, is too low to help pay rent, pushing taxes even higher to raise the stipend. Secondly, for most people, buying your own property and starting a family go hand in hand.
Unfunded liabilities in the social security system (especially in healthcare and the pension system) are indicators for a potential collapse of tax- or contribution-funded pay-as-you-go systems. Our generation is aware of the lack of inter-generational justice in Denmark and tries to build up private savings for our retirement. Raising the price of acquiring and owning property, which also serves as a private way of saving, in no way helps solving the problem of an uncertain future of the public pension system.
We Danes already have very low trust in our taxing agency after many previous scandals and this might be the drop that makes the bucket overflow. There is a huge need for both a simplification of the taxes and for cutting taxes in general. One of the most important things would also be to lessen the rights of the tax agency that, for example, last year gained the right to walk into people’s private property without a warrant if they suspect fraud.
Being taxed for owning property is already economically and morally questionable. Being overtaxed due to government-caused over-evaluation of properties is definitely a violation of the principles of the rule of law and illustrates how tax authorities act as if they were above the law.
This is why my generation demands that overtaxation of property ends. This would lower rents and to help us achieve the dream of homeownership.
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