Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has said the failure of the government to introduce any reforms to the Local Property Tax (LPT) will come at a particular cost to thousands of low income households who are not being given the option of deferring the LPT as recommended by the Review Group.

Deputy McGrath commented, “The government’s failure to bring forward any reforms to the Local Property Tax is undoubtedly a decision taken for political reasons in advance of the upcoming local and European elections. This decision was taken despite the Review Group saying that ‘further delays in revaluation may present risks to the long term sustainability of the tax’.

“Despite the fact that Fianna Fáil made a submission to the review of the LPT in May 2018, there was no effort by government to reach any political agreement on how the LPT needs to be reformed. The Budgetary Oversight Committee had asked to be consulted by the Minister on the future of the LPT in advance of Budget 2019 but this did not happen.

“The Review Group recommends a 20% increase in the income thresholds to qualify for a deferral of the LPT. The Group recommends that the current thresholds of €15,000 for a single owner and €25,000 for a couple be increased to €18,000 and €30,000 respectively. We know that in 2018 some 56,000 property owners with income below the qualifying threshold chose to defer their LPT payment. Many more wish to do so but cannot because their income is above the threshold. The government has let them down.

“While the report published today makes recommendations on the exemptions, we still do not know what the Minister’s intentions are. We do not know how many properties that are now exempt will be liable for LPT by the end of the year. In 2018 there were some 49,000 properties exempt from the LPT for one reason or another.

“It has been nearly a year now since Fianna Fáil put forward its roadmap for reforming the LPT that would have protected households from significant increases in their bills. The government has decided on the easy option of kicking the can down the road rather than bringing in the reforms that are needed.”