A Laois TD has called on the government to reform the Property Tax system.
Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley says that more than one third of homeowners are facing a bigger bill – and that is simply unfair as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage on.
Speaking in the Dáil, Brian Stanley said: “There are a lot of homeowners across Laois and Offaly who have experienced serious financial hardship over the last 18 months during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“For many of those same families, the recent announcements by the Government regarding the Local Property Tax have caused further distress and concern.
“The truth is that the Property Tax is a tax on the family home, not on wealth or accumulated property.
“This tax doesn’t just affect cuckoo funds or millionaires, it targets everyone, including those who have very little besides a roof over their heads.
“Thanks to these proposed changes by the Government, 36% of homeowners will see an increase in their Local Property Tax.
“These are homeowners who’ve already paid stamp duty when they bought the house. They have some of the highest mortgage interest rates in the EU and have huge outstanding capital sums. So Property Tax becomes a tax on debit.
“Some of them also pay management charges in housing or apartments in multi unit complexes.
“We should also remember these families still fork out money for privatised local services like refuse collection and pay their taxes for the upkeep of roads and schools.”
Deputy Stanley says that if rates are increased, then homeowners must be told exactly what that funding will be used for.
He said: “If homeowners are being asked to pay an increase property tax, then they should have a right to know exactly what they are getting in return.
“Finance minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that these changes will see councils keeping all of the money raised from property taxes, instead of the 80% they can retain currently.
“However, as a consequence, there will be an end to the equalisation fund for local authorities that have a small Commercial rates base.
“At present, Laois and Offaly County Councils receive funding from this equalisation fund.
“Can the Minister confirm whether the Government will commit to making up the shortfalls through exchequer funding which many councils are certain to face? And for how many years will this funding be provided?’’
He then re-iterated his claim that the system should be scrapped.
He said: “Sinn Féin has argued consistently that this is not a wealth tax, it is a tax on the home. It needs to be scrapped.
“Sinn Féin wants a serious conversation around the best way to tax wealth and fund local authorities.”