Why you should support Axe the Tenant Tax

Why you should support Axe the Tenant Tax

Typical brick town houses in Oxford. England, UK

Typical brick town houses in Oxford. England, UK

George Osborne started an all-out financial assault on the private rented sector (PRS) in July 2015. This attack continues to this day. If we don’t come together and fight back in an effective manner, then we should not be surprised if the situation continues to get increasingly worse. Firstly, we were targeted with shocking, discriminatory and what we believe to be unlawful changes to mortgage taxation rules (Section 24). Simply, this converted a normal business expense (mortgage interest and associated finance costs) into additional income – even though not a penny of extra income has been or will be received by the landlord! This is a previously failed experiment in Ireland, which led to huge increases in rents for tenants and was abolished due to its devastating impact. To add insult to injury, this Government also added an extra 3% surcharge on top of existing Stamp Duty for landlords, removed the 10% wear and tear allowance and we have been deliberately and systematically excluded from a major reduction in capital gains tax payable. All of these measures are not only bad for landlords, but they will result in tenants having to pay more rent and falling income and profits for all kinds of suppliers and businesses that serve the property, landlord and tenant markets. If we don’t come together and fight back with force, then what will come next….

  • Rent controls where the state sets our rental income?
  • Tenants having a right to buy property from private landlords at well below market values?
  • A massive reduction in the size of the buy-to-let sector?
Despite what you might think, these suggestions are not being put forward by a communist dictatorship, nor are they from an Alice in Wonderland fantasy-land; they are proposals and measures being seriously considered and enforced by one or more of the major UK political parties at the current time! Not one party has a credible and viable solution to building more affordable homes, but all parties do seem intent on victimising and blaming private landlords for the ever-growing housing crisis. To add salt to an already gaping wound, the Government have decided to exclude corporate entities from some of the above tax measures and only want to discriminate and punish the smaller buy-to-let landlords, who own property in their own names. These are often hard-working people who have invested their hard-earned cash into property to provide added security in their retirement years, fund their children’s education and reduce their reliance on the state! We believe that not only are these new taxes unfair but that some of them are also unlawful. This is why we are leading a Judicial Review legal challenge against the Government, with the goal of abolishing Section 24. However, the legal challenge is only part of a bigger picture and one where we need your help to fight back. This document outlines a ten point plan and explains how you can get involved and support us. Thank you for your interest and we hope we that we can count on your support. Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper Axe the Tenant Tax – Our Ten Point Plan The following ten-point-plan outlines a powerful, effective and multi-faceted campaign designed to fight back against the Government’s all-out attack against the private rented sector. It has been created in partnership with Westbourne Communications, a highly respected, effective and professional London-based communications agency. We have also integrated feedback and ideas from more than 600 landlords, letting agents, landlord associations and speakers who attended the Axe the Tenant Tax Summit on 9th June 2016. We need your help to raise the funds, so that the team at Westbourne can work with us and turn the ten-point-plan into a reality: (Please note that none of the funds raised come to us (Steve Bolton and Chris Cooper). In fact, we have both invested significant sums of money and very substantial amounts of time into the campaign and we will continue to do so without any form of reward).
  1. Legal challenge – Our starting point was a Judicial Review of the Tenant Tax. This is underway and progressing and more than £150,000 has been raised to date from more than 1,000 donors. The greatest risk to the legal challenge comes from not securing enough funding to put forward the best possible case with the best legal team we can assemble. Our broad, effective and ongoing communications campaign with Westbourne is critical to raise greater awareness, which in turn will lead to more funding for the legal challenge.
  2. ‘Axe Tenant Tax Coalition’ – We already have many landlord associations, letting agents and thousands of landlords working together as a coalition. To do more on this front and keep the coalition momentum growing, we need extra funding to really be effective and get more organisations and individuals on board. Our goal is to amplify the voices of the existing organisations, rather than setting up a new one. The ‘Axe the Tenant Tax Coalition’ is an inclusive umbrella that the industry has started to and can continue to get behind.
  3. Media and PR – In the first six months of 2016 alone, over 1,000 media articles have covered the Axe the Tenant Tax campaign and our Judicial Review. All major newspapers and TV channels have given coverage to our cause but we need to keep our messaging on point and ensure that the great coverage we have had to date continues. The media needs to be fed the right messages at the right times and relationships need to be nurtured. Media coverage is critical in raising awareness, applying pressure and generating the ongoing funding needed for both the legal challenge and the communications campaigns.
  4. Powerful and effective messaging – Effective messaging is also a critical component of our campaigning. Without it our chances of success are radically reduced. We need to make the case that Section 24 truly is a Tenant Tax. These changes are bad tax policy which will push up rents and worsen the UK housing crisis. We know this is true because a similar policy-experiment failed in Ireland. Educating and engaging tenants with our messages is also critical and a number of campaigns are ready to be actioned once we have the funding needed to get started. The fact that landlords provide affordable homes for millions of people and provide an important and valuable service to society is also a point that needs to be made much more strongly. These and other messages need to be refined and promoted far and wide and in a manner that will make them media friendly.
  5. Social media and multi-media campaign – Effective social media and multi-media (written, audio, video, face-to-face) strategies and campaigns are also a vital ingredient as part of the mix and a key component of our campaign plans. They have played an important role in both raising awareness and fund-raising to date but have much more potential in future. Both written and video case studies and stories also needed to be collected and shared far and wide.
  6. Grassroots mobilisation – The Axe the Tenant Tax campaign is a grassroots, not-for-profit cause that has made great progress in the first six months. However, only 3,000 out of a possible two million landlords are aware and supporting our cause. This represents just 0.0015% of the total number of landlords in the UK and therefore we need to find ways to mobilise as many of the remaining 99.9985% who are currently sleep-walking into disaster. The people affected by this tax directly and indirectly need to know what is going on and how they can get involved.
  7. Mobilising advocates – We need to find and nurture more advocates and champions who back our cause. Currently there are only a handful of Lords, MPs and industry bodies who are aware of Section 24 and actually understand it and speak out against it. Part of our work needs to be to find and educate more advocates in positions of influence and to get them to champion our cause.
  8. Lobbying – Along with the work being carried out by the major landlord organisations, we need to fight our corner better in Westminster. It must be made clear that the unjust all-out-attack on the buy-to-let sector will compound the housing crisis and have many unintended negative consequences. Putting increasing pressure on Government, and making our case to Parliament, is a vital strand of activity that needs to keep growing.
  9. Research and data – Facts and data add real weight to all professional communications campaigns and they can be highly effective in influencing people and changing opinions. The fact that a very similar tax was introduced in Ireland in 1998 and had disastrous consequences, is just one example that shows how research and accurate data can help to make our case much more powerfully. Detailed analysis of how many more tenants around the country will have to pay in rent will be both media friendly and will help to make a powerful and influential point. These and other ideas are part of our ongoing communications strategy.
  10. Axe the Tenant Tax website – We need to invest into the  www.tenanttax.co.uk website, which was originally created and used to promote the Tenant Tax Summit on 9th June 2016. Since that event has now passed, the site needs to be changed and updated so that it becomes the central point of entry for the Axe the Tenant Tax campaign. We have plans to improve it greatly and to include information, resources and action packs to help empower, educate and mobilise ever-growing levels of support.
All of the above is only possible if we raise the funding we need to engage Westbourne Communications and work with them on an ongoing basis. A highly effective communications strategy and team will also give us the best chance of success in raising the funds we need for the legal challenge. It also give us the chance to really change opinions in the right places, so that we can either win the legal battle or force a U-turn or major policy dilution. Thank you in advance for your support. If you want to donate more than £1,000 please contact us to find out about our Patrons programme. Donations over £5,000 qualify for our sponsors programme and can come with a range of benefits. Please contact us at info@tenanttax.co.uk. All donations, large or small, are very gratefully received.
https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/36/axe-the-tenant-tax

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