Fianna Fáil has described the local property tax amendment bill published today as “a missed opportunity.”
Senator Thomas Byrne commented: “Overall the amendment bill is very disappointing. Despite the concerns being expressed by Dublin and commuter-belt based TDs on the government backbenches there are no measures in the legislation to deal with the deeply unfair nature of the family home tax. The bottom line is that for families who are struggling to pay their bills they are not even going to get a deferral on this property tax.
“When the letters from the Revenue Commissioners start arriving at homes across the country next month people will become very angry and extremely concerned about their ability to pay. In fact we see the ‘ability to pay’ issue as one of fundamental flaws in the property tax, there is no consideration whatsoever of how families are going to pay. People in mortgage arrears, people in negative equity, people who paid a lot of money in stamp duty in recent years – they are all going to have a full liability for this tax and I think a lot of people will find that deeply unfair.
“In our pre-budget submission Fianna Fáil set out how we would arrive at the fiscal adjustment needed for this year and did so without the need for a tax on the family home. For instance we proposed increasing the Universal Social Charge by 3% for people earning over €100,000 which would raise €200m a year.
“I welcome the fact that the Government has included an exemption from the property tax for homeowners whose properties are suffering from pyrite. That is a very difficult issue causing significant hardship for thousands of homeowners. However the fact of the matter is that Fine Gael and Labour have disproportionately placed the burden of the financial adjustment on low and middle income earners while protecting the better off. We do not believe this is the fairest way to achieve the adjustment needed. If the Government backbenchers who have spoken of their difficulties with the property tax since voting for it before Christmas are really concerned about people’s ability to pay this tax and the inherent unfairness in it they will act as this legislation is brought before the Oireachtas.”