Zalm climbs back on tax hobby horse

28th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

28 February 2006, AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has renewed his attack on the OZB property tax, a main source of funding for local authorities.

28 February 2006

AMSTERDAM — Finance Minister Gerrit Zalm has renewed his attack on the OZB property tax, a main source of funding for local authorities.

Zalm said at a meeting of his Liberal Party (VVD) on Monday evening that the provincial administration should be less eager to give local municipalities an exemption from the restriction on increasing the tax.

The provinces should not act like 'rubber-stamp machines' for local authorities that wish to push the rate up, Zalm said.

His comments have drawn criticism from various quarters. Femme Halsema, the leader of green-left party Groenlinks, compared Zalm to a "donkey who hits his head on the same stone twice". The Social Party also registered amazement.

IPO, the umbrella group for provincial authorities, said Zalm's remarks were "out of proportion" as his ministerial colleague and fellow VVD member Johan Remkes had granted permission to the provinces for all exemptions granted this year.

A spokesman for Zalm said the minister had been misunderstood. "He was not talking about the past, but about the future. He wants provinces to have criteria whereby they can limit increases of the OZB."

The VVD has long campaigned for the abolition of the two-part OZB. The user's portion was scrapped at the beginning of this year but the owner's portion remains. It appears the VVD is attempting to make this a key issue in the local elections on 7 March.

Earlier this month Zalm admitted he considered resigning after his claim the OZB rate in 62 municipalities exceeds the legal maximum was proven to be largely wrong. Zalm said had got his sums wrong and he regretted the "suggestion" citizens in these districts should not pay the tax until the rates were altered.

There were isolated cases of residents informing their local council they would not be paying the tax as per Zalm's instruction.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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