Balancing the books

 

Madam, – Is it really that difficult to say: “We will introduce a property tax and a water tax, but we will try to protect the underprivileged as best we can”? This would be surely better than not introducing a property tax or a water tax and protecting the few privileged Independent TDs. – Yours, etc,

KEVIN TREACY,

Lower South Knock,

New Ross, Co Wexford.

Madam, – I am surprised Dan O’Brien’s article (Opinion, October 15th), in which he draws attention to the astronomical increase in the State’s €2.1 billion drug bill from €579 million in 2000, has not garnered more widespread media attention and cause for concern. Given the mooted €1 billion health cut, surely a few hundred million could be shaved off here and this expenditure should be slashed as an immediate priority? Why has the necessary legislation not been rushed through? – Yours, etc,

JOANNE ROCHE,

Wheaton Hall,

Drogheda, Co Louth.

Madam, – The ideal solution for selecting our next government would be for Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to each present the country with a realistic budget outline for the next two years. We could then vote in the party that makes the most sense. – Yours, etc,

ELEANOR JORDAN,

The Maltings,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Madam, – It can only be with fear that low-income, benefit- needy people await the budget. When recklessness of bankers, politicians and builders brings the poor and deprived to their knees, isn’t it time that we demand accountability? Most on benefit cannot squeeze an ounce more out of their meagre package and the rich will feel hard-done-by and walk on the other side of the road – as usual.

Please God the Government won’t allow benefits to be cut, but finds all means to avert the spectre of destitution for the old, sick, disabled and vulnerable. Anything else risks uprising, anger and suicide. – Yours, etc,

Dr MARGARET KENNEDY,

Proby Park,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Madam, – Might I suggest this Government begins to look at our €300 trillion worth of natural resources – from gold and diamonds to oil and gas – which are found in abundance in Ireland, and find out how they might help us, rather than strangle the poor and incapable? This Government seems to want the poor to pay for the excesses of the rich, while giving away our natural resources for nothing. I believe everything can be “re-negotiated” under the current conditions. – Yours, etc,

WILLIAM A THOMAS,

Craughwell, Co Galway.

Madam, – The dogs in the street appear to know about the inclusion of a property tax in the forthcoming budget. Is it possible the hapless investor will once again be a victim of a government’s inadequacy and greed? Certainly we take responsibility for buying property at the wrong time and for obtaining the mega-loans that were being anxiously pressed in our direction. The properties purchased contributed substantial vat and stamp duty receipts, all of which appear to have been given away with the impropriety of a screaming child flinging sweets from a pram.

The properties are now worth less than the loans obtained for them, rents have plummeted, a non-residential property tax was introduced and more recently, being allowed to off-set only 75 per cent interest against rental income, it is now possible to incur a tax liability on a loss-making property.

A property tax would not be another nail in the coffin – this has already been applied. It would be the financial death knell for thousands of investors who, while being prepared to take responsibility for their own actions, are yet again the fall guys for a Government which shouldn’t be running a corner shop, let alone a country. – Yours, etc,

GEOFF SCARGILL,

Loreto Grange,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Madam, – While I would of course prefer not to pay property tax, the most equitable basis would be to charge it according to the size of house rather than the value. The tax could be charged per square metre of living space. It would solve the problem of the differences in property prices throughout the country.

This would also be easy to measure by the occupants. It would be much cheaper than getting a valuation. It would also be much easier for the Government to create a database, as most county councils would have the sizes of houses from planning applications, etc.

UTE DUANE,

Priory Avenue,

Johnstown,

Navan, Co Meath.

Madam, – That there will be a general domestic property tax introduced in the next budget is by now a near-certainty, the only unknown being the form it will take.

The tax could be a simple flat rate, like the current holiday home tax but, like the domestic rates of long ago, which were abolished as the result of a vote-buying general election promise, there would be an inherent unfairness, as there would be no account taken of homeowners’ incomes and ability to pay.

A tax based on property owners’ income tax would be much fairer and would have the advantage that it would be an adjunct to an existing tax collection system, thus obviating an expensive, long- winded and protest-fraught process of the valuation of houses were a “domestic rates” type of tax to be introduced. – Yours, etc,

MARTIN McDONALD,

Liosbourne,

Carrigaline, Co Cork.

Madam, – For “Austerity” and “Front-loading”, read “We are taking your money” and “Now”. – Yours, etc,

GERARD JAMES HOUGH,

Aglish,

Roscrea, Co Tipperary.