Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has stated that the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Tánaiste Joan Burton are completely misleading flooding victims by implying that they can revalue their properties and receive a reduced LPT bill for 2016. He is calling for the Local Property Tax Act to be amended to give families whose house has been flooded an explicit right to revalue their property to take account of the loss of value caused to their home.
Under existing legislation, liability to Local Property Tax (LPT) for the years 2013 to 2016 is based on the initial self-assessed valuation of a property on 1st May 2013. According to previous parliamentary replies from the Minister for Finance: “This valuation remains valid from 1 May 2013 to 31 October 2016, and will not be affected by any increase or decrease in property prices or other changes, including repairs or improvements made, during this period.”
The Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2015 was signed in to law by the President on 20th December 2015. It provides for the May 2013 valuation to be extended for another 3 years until 2019. This means that the basis for LPT bills for 2016 and beyond is set in stone unless action is taken by the Dáil.
Deputy McGrath commented: “I welcome action by Revenue to give people the right to defer their LPT if they have been hit by flooding. The right to a deferral of LPT is based on a proof that a homeowner is receipt of a hardship payment from the Department of Social Protection. However, a deferral is not an adequate response by the State to the personal and financial devastation that flooding causes a family.
“Where a home is severely devalued by flooding the property tax payable should be reduced accordingly and where the house is rendered uninhabitable the liability should be eliminated entirely. Minister Noonan has told people that they can revalue their property for the purposes of the LPT. No such mechanism is in place and he needs to come clean and clarify his remarks immediately. Flooding victims are in a very vulnerable situation and they should not be misled by government Ministers.
“It was clear from listening to a senior Revenue official on Morning Ireland today that a system, other than a deferral, is not in place to provide for relief from LPT for flooding victims. According to the official, Revenue’s actions in facilitating deferral will “Give the Minister time to consider any further way he may wish to assist people.”
“The ball is now in the Minister’s court. Fianna Fáil proposed giving relief to homeowners affected by flooding when the Finance Bill was debated before Christmas and it was dismissed out of hand by the Minister. These families need action now.
“This matter is very urgent as 5pm today is the deadline for paying LPT in single payment. Fianna Fáil will be putting pressure on the Minister to immediately act on this matter when the Dáil resumes next week. It would be a major relief to families if they were to be told now that they are going to be given a break at what is a very stressful time for them.”