How to design a wealth tax.

Wealth taxes are very popular in general, but not in particular because it usually means that asset ownership gives rise to taxation. One example of this would be property tax.

If ‘wealth’ is going to be taxed it has to be defined, the classical example is to use the accounting equation in which ‘assets minus liabilities equals capital’. The issue after that is where debt is involved because if you owned a home worth €300,000 and had debts on it of €200,000 then your ‘wealth’ is €100,000.

People could potentially try to game the system, it’s not as simple as getting indebted, if you had €300,000 in cash and then bought a property and remortgaged it to the hilt you’d still have to have €300,000 cash somewhere, so the issue becomes one of reporting and valuation.

This puts a weight upon the individual to make declarations and returns which people don’t like doing so a simplified process would be a good thing, where a person can provider a simple number of ‘assets minus liabilities equals wealth’ and file it online.

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