Kaltenegger wipes away land tax calls

People’s Party (ÖVP) general secretary Fritz Kaltenegger has ruled out higher real estate taxes as the budget debate intensifies.Kaltenegger said today (Fri) his party opposed an increase of land tax from next year. His pledge comes days after several economists and the ÖVP’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPÖ), called for an open discussion over the issue.Asked for his opinion about the SP֒s appeal to take more pressure off the rich in the country, the ÖVP official told Die Presse: “These so-called ‘rich’ who earn the most already pay the highest personal income taxes, so why should we set up another special tax on top earners?”Kaltenegger’s statements come as the government is at loggerheads over how to cut Austria’s State debt of around 200 billion Euros. The country must also lower its budget deficit – currently minus 3.5 per cent – to avoid sanctions from the European Union (EU).ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll said he wanted to get the state budget in order with measures comprised of 60 per cent of cost-cutting initiatives and 40 per cent of new or higher taxes. The party boss has however remained tight-lipped over precise details after the announcement last March apart from calling for increased support for new eco-friendly jobs.SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann wants to introduce a tax on financial transactions even if EU leaders fail to agree on a levy affecting all 27 member states or the Eurozone-16.Claire Waysand of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meanwhile appealed to SPÖ and ÖVP not to burden employees and workers further as taxation levels on work were “already at a very high level in Austria”.Opposition leaders are meanwhile accusing the coalition of being about to breach the constitution as it planned to present the 2011 budget in December instead of considering the mandatory 10-week time frame.Faymann dismissed suggestions the decision had something to do with upcoming provincial elections in Styria (26 September) and Vienna (10 October). The chancellor claimed the government would be able to react more precisely to think tank’s predictions by postponing its measures.Kaltenegger said today he was convinced people would appreciate “careful preparations” and a “clever development” of changes to the taxation system.