Tax Relief

Aesthetics are taken under consideration within the property tax relief, says Finance Minister

Treasury Secretary Clyde Caruana said building aesthetics are being taken into account in a new program that offers tax breaks on buying and restoring old properties.

At a press conference, Caruana said the budget measure, which provides tax exemptions for buying old properties, officially went into effect on Friday.

The capital gain and stamp duty exemptions apply to the purchase of properties that are 20 years old and vacant for seven years or more, as well as properties built in UCAs or “traditional style”.

He said a committee would be set up to review requests for tax exemptions for buildings constructed in “traditional styles”.

In October it was announced that duties and capital gains tax would be charged up to the first € 750,000 of the property value. The regulation also applies to properties with a purchase promise. To avoid speculation, real estate cannot be shared.

Caruana said part of the plan is not only to keep more money in people’s pockets, but also to ensure that the places are regenerated through the restoration of buildings.

He said such fiscal measures are a positive way of giving building aesthetics the importance it deserves.

Environment Secretary Aaron Farrugia said such incentives are encouraging the construction industry to reposition their focus on restoring traditional and vacant buildings.

Andre Pizzuto, head of Kamra tal-Periti, said the chamber had warned for years that insufficient attention was paid to planning and design.

Pizzuto said the chamber will help the government come up with new plans to improve the building’s aesthetics.

The measure announced in October raised the question of whether it is sufficient to protect zones in cities and villages that are outside the UCA but are still worth protecting.

Alex Torpiano from Din L’Art Helwa asked whether including 20 year old vacant properties was a means of making relatively modern unsold buildings more attractive.

And he asked whether the focus on “traditional style” might “encourage fake slang instead of promoting good design”.

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