NICOSIA - Small property owners were last night offered light relief by parliament, but despite protracted behind-the-scenes consultations, the bulk of the new property tax regime remains effectively unchanged.
With only 15 votes in favour and 39 abstentions, including ruling Disy, MPs exempted property worth under €12,500 at 1980 prices from the tax.
The amendment affects some 52,000 property owners and means €12.7 million less revenue for state coffers. Opposition Akel, which unsuccessfully sought significant changes to what it rejects as an unacceptable law, also abstained.
MPs had been locked in intense negotiations as to how to make the Troika-mandated hike in property tax fairer, without depriving the government of much needed revenue.
In the face of a public outcry after introducing tax on all property irrespective of value, the government brought an amendment to the House exempting that worth less than €5,000 in 1980 – leading to €10m less in revenue.
This was amended by coalition Diko to €12,500 and approved with the support of smaller parties.
As expected, MPs also voted to scrap a provision imposing a minimum tax of €75.
Under the bailout programme, the government needs to raise €100m from property tax but has so far only collected 10%.