People who cannot pay new tax may get waiver


Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said people who cannot afford the property tax to be announced on budget day next week should be allowed to defer payment.

The budget is not on the agenda for today’s Cabinet meeting but it will be discussed formally for the first time at an additional meeting tomorrow, which is expected to centre on expenditure cuts rather than revenue-raising measures.

Mr Varadkar said he believed a temporary waiver should apply for people “genuinely” unable to pay when the tax is introduced next year.

“We may need a mechanism to allow people to defer payment of the property tax or have it attached to the value of their property if they’re unable to pay it,” he said.

Property tax will be levied from July 2013 and will be collected by the Revenue Commissioners. There has been speculation it will be pitched at 0.25 per cent of house value. The broad outline of the tax will be announced on budget day, December 5th.

On the issue of whether social welfare recipients should be exempt, Mr Varadkar said his Fine Gael colleague Brian Hayes was right to say everyone should pay something. “It’s not really fair to working people to say that they always have to pick up all the bill and that others don’t,” Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar, who was speaking after turning on a Christmas light display at Merrion Square Park, Dublin said the budget had not been discussed formally at Cabinet because of extensive leaks to media outlets ahead of last year’s budget.

Discussions have remained largely within the confines of the Economic Management Council, which comprises Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

“What’s happening on Wednesday really is a presentation of where the EMC think the shape of the budget should be. So it’ll be the first opportunity that we’ve had as Cabinet members to input into the budget outside our own departmental areas,” Mr Varadkar said. “I think last year there was a lot of kite-flying, a lot of battles fought in public. That didn’t work very well.”

However, Labour TD Michael McNamara criticised the secrecy: “The last time this process was employed to agree anything we ended up with the bank guarantee.”