Homeowners in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area of Dublin can expect a reduction in their local property tax (LPT) bills next year, after county councillors decided to cut the rate by 15 per cent.
Following warnings from the then council chief executive Philomena Poole last year of the "catastrophic" impact on finances expected due to the Covid-19 pandemic, councillors voted against a rate cut for this year.
However, despite entreaties from Ms Poole’s successor Tom McHugh to maintain the higher charge, councillors on Monday voted for the full 15 per cent discount the maximum allowed by the Government.
The reduction, Mr McHugh said, “will result in a loss of income to the council amounting to €7.8 million and will result in a wide range of cuts to services in 2022”.
An estimated 6,500 homeowners in the council’s area will face LPT bills for the first time next year. These are people whose homes were completed after the tax was introduced in 2013 and were until now exempt from the charge.
Mr McHugh said the Department of Housing and Local Government had told the council “to presume no increase in LPT income” despite the addition of these homes to the tax net.
While the rate charged by the council will fall next year, households will not know their LPT liability until the forthcoming revaluation of their homes. Homeowners are required to submit a new valuation for their properties in November, in what will be the first revision to valuations since the tax was introduced in 2013.
Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and People Before Profit proposed motions to apply the full 15 per cent discount. Several councillors highlighted the current uncertainty surrounding the revaluation and the council’s projected finances for next year.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Clark said the LPT had been "likened to a wealth tax" but he said the "the vast majority do not see their family home as an asset to be flipped".
Fine Gael’s Barry Saul said people on fixed incomes and senior citizens were hit with a large increase in their property tax bills this year.
People Before Profit's Melisa Halpin said LPT was a "tax on the family home that doesn't take into account what people's incomes are".
However, Green Party, Labour and Social Democrats councillors and some Independents called for the cut not to be implemented.
Oisín O’Connor (Green) said the cut was “disproportionately for the benefit of property millionaires” and Labour councillor Denis O’Callaghan said it was a “massive tax handout to the most affluent and wealthy in our county”.
Councillors voted by 24 to 16 for the cut. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was the last of the Dublin local authorities to agree the LPT rate for next year, with Dublin City Council and South Dublin County Council opting for a 15 per cent cut and Fingal for a 10 per cent cut.