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Parliament passes tax bill to boost housing market
SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- A parliamentary committee on Monday passed a government-proposed bill that calls for the temporary exemption of capital gains taxes on homes, in a move expected to boost housing transactions.

   The exemption applies to people who purchase homes worth up to 600 million won (US$536,400) or no bigger than 85 square meters between Monday and the end of December this year. They will be exempt from capital gains taxes if they sell them over the next five years.

   The bill went into force immediately after the passage though it has yet to win approval from the full National Assembly.

   The tax exemption is designed to help invigorate home transactions amid a protracted property slump here.

   The country's real estate market is undergoing what many believe to be the worst downturn in the country's history, causing serious problems for the country's construction industry and the whole economy.

   There were over 73,000 unsold new homes in the country as of the end of February, according to government data. The average price of South Korean homes dipped 0.26 percent from a year earlier in January, posting an on-year drop for 10 consecutive months.