Protest rally considers boycott of property tax

 

A mass boycott of the registration process for the new property tax, a national one-day work stoppage and fielding a “raft” of candidates in next year’s local and European elections are among the actions being considered to fight the new levy.

Up to 600 people attended the year’s first national rally against the property tax at the weekend, where strategies were discussed.

Numbers far exceeded organisers’ expectations, and management at the Dublin venue had to provide hundreds of extra chairs, while up to 50 people could not get into the room.

People had travelled from across the State for the half-day meeting. Several TDs, including Joan Collins and Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit as well as Joe Higgins and Clare Daly of the Socialist Party, were there, as were councillors and senior members of the Unite and CPSU trade unions.

Richard Forbes, from Drogheda said this was the first political campaign he had been involved in. “I became involved because this tax is being used to bail out the bond-holders while the Government is destroying the economy.”

Philomena Foster from Tallaght described the property tax as “unjust on top of the universal social charge, PRSI, income tax. We have to pay for everything in this country. We get no decent services and enough is just enough.”

Noreen Kennedy from Wexford describing herself as “very angry”.

“I am prepared to go all the way with this fight. I am prepared to be taken to court.”

The new tax is to be levied on almost every home in the State this year, with payment due on July 1st.

Property value

The Revenue Commissioners will begin issuing letters to the estimated 1.6 million households in March estimating the property value and tax liable. Householders will have until May 7th to register by post or until May 28th to register electronically, either agreeing with the valuation or appealing it. Householders failing to return the forms will have a rate imposed on the property.

Failure to pay could lead to Revenue deducting the tax from wages, pensions or welfare payments.

“This is draconian legislation,” said Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP.

While the household charge could simply be boycotted last year the new tax would be different as Revenue may “take the money out of people’s pockets”.

“It will be more difficult to defeat but the numbers who turned up show people are up for a fight. Apart perhaps from abortion, this will be the biggest political fight this year.”

He said the reality of the tax had not fully registered with the public. That was likely to change in March when valuation letters were issued and would do even more so “if and when” Revenue began deducting the tax at source.

There was widespread support at the meeting for a boycott of the registration process.

Major headache

Mr Murphy said if hundreds of thousands of people refused to register “it would send a strong political message to Government that there is no mandate for this tax. And it would be a major headache for Revenue”.

There were also calls for a presence at anti-austerity protests being organised by the ICTU around the State on February 9th.