Property tax 'can be avoided'
Claims were made in the Dáil that if the Government effectively implemented its 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate it would raise €3-€4 billion and avoid the need for property taxes and further cuts in health services.
The claim was made in advance of next week’s budget and amid reports about the type of property tax to be implemented, which could include deferrals of the tax for qualifying families.
United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett claimed the Government was not implementing the tax as he highlighted replies to parliamentary questions he had asked about the tax that multinational firms paid in Ireland. He said they showed “corporations who made €61 billion in profits in this State were only paying 6.5 per cent effective tax rate”.
But Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore accused him of “running around like a blue-behind bluebottle waving slogans”.
Telling his Dún Laoghaire constituency colleague “don’t be daft”, Mr Gilmore defended the Government’s corporation tax regime and said: “We have a rate of corporation tax in this country which by any standard is an effective and very strong rate of corporation tax.”
Mr Boyd Barrett was referring to replies he had received previously in the Dáil, which showed some corporations were paying less than the standard 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate.
Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Richard Bruton, who had given the replies, subsequently said the corporations had availed of “legitimate tax reliefs” to reduce their tax bill.
The question of property tax was raised by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who claimed Fianna Fáil had had a "Pauline conversion on property tax" and now opposed their own policies, which the current Government was implementing. She said the plan to tax the family home was a “crazy policy”.
But Mr Gilmore criticised Sinn Féin’s “hypocrisy”, highlighting property tax charges in Northern Ireland where Sinn Féin was in government.
He said “a house valued at £160,000 in Antrim pays £1,100 in property tax. 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 you propose on the family home”.
She asked: “How do you imagine families will cope with an additional €400 or €500” to pay out, and said a deferral was not a waiver.
She called on him to reassure those out of work, on pension 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 in the budget before “charging in” and attacking it. “The Government intends any of the measures which it introduces are fair.”