Rome

Govt close to breakthrough on property tax, says minister

IMU will only be paid by owners of 'luxury homes'

Govt close to breakthrough on property tax, says minister

(see related story on government) Rome, July 22 - Premier Enrico Letta's government is close to reaching an agreement to scrap the IMU property tax, one of the thorniest issues the fragile left-right executive has faced since it took power in April, according to a minister. Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party has repeatedly threatened to pull its support from the government and sink it if the unpopular tax is not scrapped and the 2012 revenues from it returned to respect a pledge made in the campaign for February's general election. Letta has suspended this year's payments of the tax until December to allow time for it to be revised, but has not yet said the tax will be scrapped completely. The government needs to find around four billion euros to cover the revenues that were destined to be raised by IMU in the already tight State budget. Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni has said it will be difficult to scrap IMU and hit other policy targets, such as preventing a 1% rise in the top band of value added tax scheduled for later this year. But Regional Affairs Minister Graziano Delrio, a member of Letta's centre-left Democratic Party, said the government is close to thrashing out a solution. Delrio told Turin daily La Stampa that IMU will be abolished on all primary residences, except for luxury homes. It will also stay in place on holiday homes and other properties that are not the owners' main place of residence. He said the question now was not whether IMU would be scrapped, but whether it would abolished this year or next.

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