Minister defends inclusion of houses in some unfinished estates

Rabbitte insists standard methodology was applied for all estates

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has defended the inclusion of people living in unfinished housing estates in the property tax. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has defended the inclusion of people living in unfinished housing estates in the property tax. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/Irish Times

 

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has defended the inclusion of people living in unfinished housing estates in the property tax regime.

Mr Rabbitte said it related to the improved performance in finishing previously unfinished estates and the application of a standard, nationwide methodology of assessment.

“The purpose of the tax is to broaden the tax base so that the Government can avoid putting additional taxes on income and people at work,” he added.

Mr Rabbitte said it would not be fair that some citizens would have to pay the tax while others were exempt.

The Minister added that he had been assured by the Department of the Environment that it had gone through the estates, one by one, and had taken decisions based on the current standards.

The Minister was replying in the Dáil today to Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath who said thousands of people were receiving letters from the Revenue Commissioners with an estimate of their liability to pay the tax.

“We learn today that seven out of the eight people living in unfinished housing estates, who were exempt from the household charge last year, are now going to have to pay property tax,” he added.He said the number exempt living in unfinished developments had spectacularly dropped from 43,000 to 5,000, simply because Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan had instructed local authorities to go into every unfinished development and identify the houses which should or should not be exempt.

“We now have a situation where one family living in an unfinished housing estate, who is lucky enough to have a footpath outside the door and maybe a public light that works, will have to pay the property tax,’’ he added.

“But another family, around the corner in the same estate, who might be looking out on a heap of rubble, on what was supposed to be a green area, will now get an exemption.

Mr McGrath said the Minister was using the national housing development survey report to justify the dramatic drop in the number of people who would be allowed to avail of an exemption. But the report had cited 1,100 unfinished developments in a seriously problematic condition.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Minister was asking the Dáil to accept that in less than a year the number of unfinished estates had more than halved.