Gilmore guarded about property tax

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

The Tánaiste refused to be drawn in the Dáil on details of the property tax to be announced in the budget. Eamon Gilmore said the Government would introduce a “local property tax to replace the household charge”.

“That is a budgetary matter under consideration by the Government, and the Minister for Finance will announce the details of it on budget day.”

During heated exchanges, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of effectively implementing “Fianna Fáil’s four-year plan” and following the former government party’s “austerity plan”.

She accused the Government of leaking details of its proposed property tax to the media, after the Irish Independent reported homeowners would pay an average of €200-€400 in a flat rate tax based on market value.

The Dublin Central TD also described the plan to tax the family home as a “crazy policy”. Mr Gilmore criticised Sinn Féin’s “hypocrisy”, highlighting property tax charges in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Féin is in government.

“A house valued at £150,000 in Antrim pays £1,100 [€1,357] in property tax,” he said. “A house valued at £100,000 in Strabane pays £714 in property tax and a house valued at £75,000 in Coleraine pays £506.”

Ms McDonald said Mr Gilmore’s “attempt at distraction” did not qualify as an answer and the rates system in the North “is a world away” from the tax he proposed on the family home.

“How do you imagine families will cope with an additional €400 or €500?” She pointed out that a deferral was not a waiver. She called on the Tánaiste to reassure those out of work, on pensions and those “who literally count the cents” that he would grant waivers and take account of the reality of people’s lives.

Mr Gilmore said Sinn Féin should at least await the announcement before “charging in” and attacking the budget. “The Government intends any of the measures which it introduces are fair.”

Richard Boyd Barrett (United Left Alliance) said that if the Government implemented its suggested 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate, €3 billion- €4 billion would be raised and would prevent the introduction of property tax or further health and education cuts.

He said replies to parliamentary questions he had asked about the tax multinational firms paid in Ireland showed that “corporations who made €61 billion in profits in this State were only paying 6.5 per cent effective tax rate”.

Mr Gilmore accused him of “running around like a blue-behind bluebottle waving slogans”. He told his constituency colleague not to be “daft” and defended the Government’s corporation tax regime.