Property tax deferrals signalled
Introducing the amending legislation to the Finance Local Property Tax Act, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told the Dail today the Government had to pass the legislation last year to meet a troika commitment.
A homeowner in a debt settlement or personal insolvency arrangement may qualify for a property tax deferral for the duration of that agreement, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.
Householders whose homes are affected by pyrite will be exempt from the tax for three consecutive years and properties used by charities will also be excluded where their property is used for recreational purposes. Local authority housing will be liable for the lowest valuation charge (a property value up to a maximum of €100,000) and payment will be deferred until 2014.
Introducing the amending legislation to the Finance Local Property Tax Act, which was passed in December and is to be implemented in July, Mr Noonan told the Dáil today they had to pass the legislation last year to meet a troika commitment.
The amending legislation, the Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill sets out exemptions, deferrals and penalties for non-compliance.
But Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said neither Fine Gael nor Labour had a mandate from the electorate to introduce a property tax in its current form because both had campaigned in the general election against such a tax.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty hit out at the "snitch" clause. He said it was not right to ask citizens of the State to inform on their neighbours. "That's what the Revenue are there for." Citizens should comply with the tax if they wished to, he said. People would have to comply with the law to declare the value when they bought the property.
Independent TD Catherine Murphy said the tax was being imposed solely to fund the national debt and would not provide any further services. She said a guillotine was being imposed to allow the Revenue Commissioners to send out tens of thousands of letters to people about the tax. She said there would be no vote on the Bill today because "they did not want a debate and most of the bloated Government head out to do constituency clinics and attend local events".
The Kildare North TD questioned what people were being asked to pay for. She said there was a shortfall of €534 million in the local government fund. The property tax at best would bring in €500 million, so that "knocked on the head" any chance of additional services being provided, she said.
"The property tax was all about funding the national debt but the Government was giving the impression it was going to provide extra services such as parks maintenance, leisure services and street cleaning, and this was pure nonsense," Ms Murphy said.
Outlining details of the Bill, however, the Minister said those in personal insolvency may qualify for a deferral of the local property tax during the period for which the insolvency arrangement is in effect, where a valid claim is made to the Revenue Commissioners.
The Bill also allows exemptions for three years for those whose homes have pyrite and regulations to be introduced by the Minister for the Environment, will stipulate how residential properties should be tested for pyrite-induced damage.
A home adapted for a person with a disability could qualify for a reduced tax if the adaptation was grant-aided by a local authority. If a home is adapted for an incapacitated individual, an exemption may apply so long as its cost is more than 25 per cent of the value of the home.
Mr McGrath highlighted Mr Noonan's comments when, as Fine Gael finance spokesman before the general election, he said an annual recurring residential property tax on the family home is unfair. Mr McGrath said this was the view expressed in the party's election manifesto.
Mr McGrath added Mr Noonan had also said what may be viewed as fair in South Dublin might be viewed as unworkable in rural Clare.