Sun, Feb 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ko mulls tax changes for Taipei storefronts

EASTERN DISTRICT:The mayor said that property owners in the shopping districts are not willing to drop their rent, even if they do not have tenants

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, left, and New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chun-ching drive a railroad bicycle in Badouzih in New Taipei City’s Rueifang District yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Taipei’s eastern shopping districts are suffering because rent is kept high and the city government is looking for solutions to the issue, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said on Friday.

Ko made the remarks during a radio interview with Huang Kuang-chin (黃光芹).

Huang asked Ko to comment on a remark by actress Eva Lo (羅霈穎), who said on Facebook on Feb. 13: “Mayor Ko, please revive Taipei and let the eastern shopping district return to life. We want it to be bustling like Kaohsiung. Please care about Taipei residents rather than [thinking about] running for president.”

Cash flow in Taipei has remained steady over the past four years, Ko said, adding that he worked hard to revive the city’s western areas in his first term, so the eastern areas might have fallen behind.

One solution would be to increase cash flow, he said, adding that property owners in shopping districts are unwilling to lower rent, even if they do not have tenants.

“We are thinking about increasing property taxes for empty storefront properties,” Ko said. “I think we should lower taxes on self-occupied properties that are the only one the owner has ... but the current cost of holding onto an empty storefront property without renting it is too low.”

“Frankly, high rent increases already high property prices,” he said, adding that people live in suburban areas because of high prices in downtown areas.

“However, it is difficult to operate a store in a suburban area and start-ups commonly spend all their profit on high rent,” he said.

Ko yesterday said that lowering taxes on single self-occupied properties would his administration’s top priority, because a home is a basic necessity, but using a storefront site to collect high rent and even leaving it empty instead of lowering the rent is a different situation.

Tax policy is a serious issue, so decisions would not be rushed, he said.

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