FF calls for report on property tax to be made public


FIANNA FÁIL has called for the immediate publication of an expert report commissioned by the Government on property tax.

The call came yesterday as Government Ministers denied any decision had been taken as to how the tax would be assessed.

This was despite the fact that the Government’s latest submission to the International Monetary Fund and EU, published on Friday, indicated that a property tax based on house valuation rather than square footage would be introduced in the budget.

Fianna Fáil’s environment and local government spokesman Barry Cowen claimed Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has been sitting on the Thornhill report on property tax which the Government had promised would be made public.

“However it now appears that once again instead of being upfront with householders, the Government has gone ahead and agreed a new form of property tax to be introduced in December’s budget,” he said. “I have real concerns about the inequalities associated with a property tax based on value, particularly at a time when it is extremely difficult to provide a real assessment of property values,” he added.

However, speaking at the Tall Ships Festival in Dublin yesterday, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said commentary suggesting a decision had been taken to introduce a tax based on house valuation rather than square footage was “premature”.

“No decision has yet been made on whether it will be valuation-based or floor-based or site-valuation-based. All those decisions have yet to be made by the Government,” he said.

“I think some of the commentary on the property tax is probably a little bit premature. All that has been agreed is that a property tax will be introduced next year and that the Revenue Commissioners will be responsible for collecting it.”

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte also said yesterday that no decision had been made on the manner in which property tax would be calculated.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said a value-based property tax does not take account of personal circumstances such as ability to pay or variations in value based on location.

Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney said the property tax was “mandated by the memorandum of understanding signed by Fianna Fáil”.

He said it was Fianna Fáil “who signed the original memorandum of understanding after they invited in the troika and lost our economic sovereignty”.

A Department of Finance spokesman said: “The report on the introduction of a progressive and fair property tax to replace the household charge is with the Minister for the Environment. The recommendation will be considered by Government in due course.”