TDs fear property tax impact on Labour
Concern is growing among Labour’s Dublin TDs that the property tax will “sink” the party in the capital. The incoming tax will hit city dwellers harder than people who live in rural areas.
A number of urban backbenchers, including Dublin South-East deputy Kevin Humphreys, voiced the concerns of their constituents at the parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday afternoon, according to some of their colleagues.
Meanwhile, about 30 Labour councillors from Dublin and Wicklow met senior party figures including the Tánaiste in Government Buildings on Wednesday night to discuss the implications of the tax for the region.
Mr Humphreys said he did not want to discuss what happened at the parliamentary party meeting. However, he said he was worried about a recommendation in the Thornhill report on property tax that 65 per cent of the tax take should go to the local authority in which the taxed properties were situated.
The balance would be redistributed to authorities with weaker funding bases.
“I would be very anxious that we would have a higher percentage. I would much prefer to see it go up to 80 per cent within local areas to provide much-needed services for those communities,” Mr Humphreys said.
Another TD reportedly told the parliamentary party meeting that Labour would “sink” if it could not show that money raised from homeowners would benefit the areas in which it was collected.
Dublin Mid-West deputy Robert Dowds also declined to speak about the meeting but said he was concerned about “discrepancies” between the bills faced by urban and rural homeowners.
“I fully accept that there are people in poverty in rural areas, but if the property tax is to float long-term it needs to seem to be fair,” he said.
However, Mr Dowds welcomed the new exemption that will see all local authority and voluntary housing association homes put into the valuation band for properties worth up to €100,000, the lowest of the bands.
Due in July
The property tax is to be levied at 0.18 per cent on properties worth up to €1 million and 0.25 per cent on the balance of homes worth more than that. The half-year tax for 2013 is due on July 1st. The tax Bill goes to second stage in the Dáil on Friday.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin and Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan met the councillors this week, with Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton contributing briefly.
Among the issues raised were ability to pay; people in negative equity and those in apartment blocks who already paid management fees.