Monday 18 February 2019

Tax breaks plan to help over-55s downsize homes

James Reilly: Wants new measures to be introduced. Photo: Steve Humphreys
James Reilly: Wants new measures to be introduced. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Tax breaks to encourage older homeowners to downsize are among a raft of new measures aimed at promoting dedicated housing for people over 55.

Former minister James Reilly will table a motion in the Seanad this week calling for a raft of new measures including ring-fenced funding, changes to inheritance tax and exemptions from property tax for so-called 'bespoke' housing built and reserved for older people.

It calls on the Department of Housing to publish a plan for housing for over 55s and to offer options including new funding models to provide for tailored housing for the elderly.

The motion, supported by all Fine Gael senators, also calls on the Government to "review the tax regulations and alter them to encourage and enable persons living in large homes inappropriate for their current needs to downsize to bespoke housing for the elderly".

This could be done by exempting "bespoke housing" from property tax, but it also says the Government should also examine the suite of current capital and other taxes to see if an incentive can be designed to encourage downsizing.

Inheritance tax is considered a viable area where allowances could be made to encourage people to move to smaller homes and also help family members who may be looking to get on the housing ladder.

The private members' motion also calls for zones to be reserved for housing for elderly people, along the same lines as land is zoned for school use now.

Under the proposal, the department would have to collaborate formally with the HSE and others in order to ensure wraparound services were available alongside tailored housing to allow people to live in their homes for as long as possible. That idea echoes proposals being teased out by Junior Health Minister Jim Daly who has suggested retirement villages as a solution to Ireland's expanding elderly population.

The proposals are designed to help people avoid the "scourge of loneliness associated with inappropriate housing" and would be a "win-win-win for the elderly, the first-time buyers and the State", Mr Reilly said.

Fingal councillor Tom O'Leary, who works with Mr Reilly, is due to discuss a project with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy this week, with a view to forming a co-op to deliver up to 50 homes in the area for older people.

Meanwhile, Mr Murphy is due to publish a policy document in the coming weeks examining options to encourage the elderly to downsize and to ensure delivery of homes suitable for older people.

Irish Independent

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