In the past the official depreciation rates for rented flats in Germany have largely been changed in line with economic, fiscal or housing policy objectives. The actual decline in the property’s value was of secondary concern. Taxation is only neutral when tax write-offs correspond to economic depreciation. In Germany, loss of economic value is considerably higher than the present depreciation rate permitted for tax purposes. New building and refurbishments are thus at a disadvantage compared with alternative investments, the consequences of which are a reduction in building activity and higher rents.

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