France's Latest Tax Target: Vacation Homes

France’s President François Hollande has reneged on his previous promise not to raise any new taxes. Under new proposals, all owners of second homes will be faced with a 20% surcharge on housing taxes. The intention is ease housing shortages, and it is envisaged that this new tax will prompt the owners of second homes to rent or sell their properties. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that in Paris, some 174,000 residences are second homes, equalling 16% of the city’s housing stock, and up to 40% in some high value neighborhoods favored by wealthy foreigners. There are nearly 3.2 million second homes in France, where it’s relatively common for middle-class families to own homes in the countryside or near the coast. National statistics agency Insee says 10 percent of French homes are secondary residences. The figure in the U.S. is only 3 percent, according to the Census Bureau.

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