Money Grouse: Taxing experience with second home

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The Independent Online
THE BRADLEYS have owned a cottage in Wales for 26 years. The cottage, somewhat controversially, is their second home.

But equally controversial, they believe, is the fact that they will have to pay double the council tax they would have to pay on an English holiday home.

Having read the literature put out by the Department of the Environment about the council tax, the Bradleys believed that they would get a 50 per cent discount on their second home. A spokesman for the department confirmed that this would be so if the cottage were in England.

'The logic of the council tax is that 50 per cent of it is based on the property,' he said. 'The other part is based on a personal element, assuming two people representing 25 per cent each.'

However, when the couple wrote to their district council in Gwynedd asking about council tax arrangements they were told: 'A property which is not a sole or main residence but is furnished will not be subject to a discount.'

The Bradleys felt aggrieved. The cottage had been condemned to dereliction when they bought it in the 1960s. Not only have they restored the cottage to its former beauty, but they also helped four other cottage-holders to modernise their buildings when they put in water and electricity.

A spokesman for the local council confirmed that it recently decided to take advantage of a special regulation that allows Welsh authorities to do away with the usual discounts on second homes. He added: 'People here feel that owners of these homes should make a contribution equal to the other householders.'

A fifth of the residential properties in the area are second homes. Many other councils are expected to take advantage of the regulations, which were introduced by the Welsh Office.

Mrs Bradley sees this as institutionalised rough justice. 'It's very unfair,' she said. 'English property-holders are subsidising Welsh property-holders.'

Bradley is a pseudonym for the couple, who do not wish to be identified.

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