Coveney defends property tax
The new local property tax will be “very unpopular” but such taxes should never have been done away with, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said.
Mr Coveney was responding to a campaign against the tax launched by Sinn Féin today. The opposition party also announced it would table a motion of no confidence in the Government in the Dáil next week.
Mr Coveney said the Government was trying to introduce such a tax “as fairly as we possibly can” and he estimated about 15 per cent of mortgage holders would avail of an opportunity to defer it until it could be paid from their estates after death.
He said the tax, which would bring in about half a billion euros in a full year and half of that next year because it would be introduced from July, would “insulate Ireland from the kind of collapse of tax revenue that we saw a number of years ago into the future because it’s a very stable source of tax”.
Ireland was now the “only country left in the OECD, which is the developed world essentially, that doesn’t have some form of property tax”.
The tax will be levied at 0.18 per cent of the value of a property.
Speaking on RTE’s Saturday with Claire Byrne programme, the Minister said an “average” house in Derry would pay between £1,300 and £1,500 each year. Sinn Fein seemed to be “comfortable with that”, he said.
Yet in the south, it was launching a national campaign to “try and stoke up anger and social division”.
Speaking on the same programme, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the Bill was not yet law. But if the Government got its way, it was clear Revenue would have the power to deduct the property tax at source.
Not paying was therefore probably not an option for people, he said. Sinn Fein had never called on people not to pay it.
The party was focused on mounting a campaign to put enough public pressure on the Government and on backbenchers and Ministers so they would “finally see the light”.
It was “completely unjust”, he said, to people earning under the minimum wage, for those who couldn’t even pay their mortgage, for those in negative equity to pay a family home tax.
He said the party was not just about opposing the tax, but had come up with an alternative which was about taxing wealth and not family homes. This existed in many other countries throughout Europe, he said.
Mr Coveney said it was not true that countries across the EU were considering a wealth tax as an alternative to tax take.
There were only two countries remaining in Europe that had a wealth tax, and Denmark, Germany and Italy had recently abolished them because they “didn’t work”. He said such taxes drove assets and wealth out of a country.
Defending a cut announced in the Budget to the annual respite payment for carers, Mr Coveney said support for carers had increased “dramatically” in the last 10 years and continued to increase.
Core supports had been protected this year and last year, he said.
But a decision had been made to make about €26 million in savings, out of nearly €800 million, in the respite care grant area and to reduce it to €1,375 a year.
“What we are doing is we are returning to 2006/2007 levels for the respite grant, which was the height of the boom in Ireland, when it was actually government surpluses.”
He said the Government was applying a “small” reduction to the respite grant, but it was doing so “to try and protect core supports for carers and for people who are relying on social welfare across the country”.
“That’s a very unpopular thing to do, but we had to make some saving in those areas and both last year and this year we are protecting and actually increasing core supports for carers because there’s increasing numbers there.”
Up to 250 carers and their families protested against the cuts outside Leinster House yesterday.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams today accused Fine Gael and Labour of breaking their contract with the electorate and tearing up their election promises.
"During the election these parties stood on a platform of standing up for Ireland’s interests in Europe; of ‘not one more red cent’ to be given to the banks; of protecting child benefit," he said.
He said it had the Government had introduced “a savage, regressive budget which among other measures sees a new tax on the family home, cuts to child benefit and payments to carers”.
“The budget targets ordinary working families and the most vulnerable in our society and further damages the potential for economic growth and recovery.”
Additional reporting: PA