Fianna Fáil Meath Senator Thomas Byrne has condemned the Government’s decision to cast aside pre-election promises and introduce a punitive charge on the family home.  
 
Describing the property tax plans as the “wrong tax at the wrong time”, Senator Byrne pointed out that Meath households face among the highest property tax bills in the country.  According to the Fianna Fáil Senator, only the homes on the south-side of Dublin will pay higher property taxes on average than homes in Co Meath.
 
Fine Gael and Labour have opted for a 0.18% tax on the value of the family home up to €1m within €50,000 bands. A home worth €150,000 will be taxed at the rate of 0.18% on €175,000 – working out at €315 per annum.  
 
Senator Byrne explained, “This tax will hit Meath homeowners particularly hard.  For example, the average three bedroom semi-detached house in Longford will only pay €90 per year.  Homeowners in Meath, where mortgages are higher, are severely discriminated against.  In fact Meath will be second only to the south-side of Dublin in average property tax.  There is something wrong here.”
 
He said that the decision to push ahead with the tax is a direct result of the fact that neither Fine Gael nor Labour considered the needs of the ‘squeezed middle’ in this Budget.
 
The Fianna Fáil Senator continued, “The government’s proposals for a property tax will hit struggling homeowners at a time when they can least afford it. Now is simply not the time to inflict an unfair property tax on a struggling economy, a weak housing market and on homeowners who are working to make ends meet. The severely limited range of exemptions will ensure that this tax will hit struggling homeowners very hard.  Meanwhile zoned land is exempt, which is completely wrong.
 
“This plan will push many families who are already struggling to pay their basic bills over the edge. All the government’s talk about fairness means nothing to ordinary homeowners who are working hard to keep their heads above water, and are now facing more hefty bills.
 
“This property tax is political decision by Fine Gael and Labour. The Troika have been very clear in recent discussions that it is not necessary to hit homeowners with property taxes if we meet the overall budgetary targets. Fianna Fáil has put forward a fully costed alternative Budget that does not hammer homeowners with a property tax, but instead introduces fairer measures to meet the overall savings required.
 
“The fig leaf measures of a higher 0.25% tax on homes worth over €1m will barely cover 16,000 homes in the State and only a handful in Meath. With Labour focussed on looking after those on social welfare – and still failing to do so – and Fine Gael pre-occupied by looking after the highest paid people in the State, no one in Government is focussed on protecting the vast majority of people in the middle who are struggling to pay their bills and look after their families.”