Reilly criticised for property tax break

 

MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has been condemned over tax breaks claimed for a house in Co Offaly. United Left Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett said ordinary workers who were being “hammered” with charges, levies and taxes would be “outraged” Dr Reilly was “claiming tax relief on his 13-bedroom mansion in Co Offaly”.

Defending his Cabinet colleague, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said Ireland had inherited a “rich architectural heritage of buildings going back centuries” and to ensure the survival of that heritage, successive governments had provided tax incentives and reliefs to owners “on condition that they make those buildings open to the public”.

Mr Boyd Barrett raised the issue during leaders’ questions in the Dáil yesterday and claimed the Government had “one law for the rich and one for the poor”.

Council tenants were living in “dilapidated sub-standard homes and can’t get maintenance work done”, yet there was a tax relief “for people with mansions to do maintenance work on their homes is being provided by the State”.

Even the IMF “is questioning the fairness of the way in which the austerity measures are being disproportionately imposed on the least well off”.

Mr Quinn said the Dún Laoghaire TD would be aware, given his constituency, of the architectural heritage Ireland had inherited. Some buildings “are private dwellings in which people live. The maintenance and upkeep is very expensive because of their age and the manner in which they were built.”

Insisting there was “no one law for the rich and one for the poor”, Mr Quinn said the laws in relation to heritage preservation were “open to everyone who was in a position to avail of them”.

The tax relief is intended for historically significant buildings and gardens to help owners meet maintenance and restoration costs. The 18th century mansion, Laughton House, just outside Moneygall, was built in the late 1700s and reconstructed in the 19th century.