Reader's Blog: Property tax is symptomatic of unequal society

As highlighted by your report (“Up to 80,000 homes exempt from property tax until 2021”, Irish Examiner, April 6), Fine Gael’s attitude to taxation displays utter indifference to fairness, and its failure to address the anomalies that the local property tax (LPT) has thrown up is a disgrace and may even be discriminatory.

The LPT was sold as a wealth tax, yet large numbers of those who have built a property since 2013 are exempt, while the minister has flagged that when the tax is changed, there will be increases on “small rural homes” of low value, but the owners of high-value property will be protected.

It is unclear what exactly this tax now is, but the plan seems to be to shift the burden of it onto those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder. It has gone from being a wealth tax to a poor tax.

Fine Gael doesn’t distribute the tax burden equally among the populace and has no difficulty taxing even those who are obviously struggling.

The sound-bite that “the tax base has to be widened” is plain daft, if what that means is to capture in the net those who clearly cannot afford to meet the levy. How can pushing those on the breadline deeper into poverty benefit society?

The failure to means-test the LPT is nasty for pensioners, who are surviving on the basic State pension. They worked to put a roof over their families’ heads, only to now see their lives made more onerous by this tax.

Maybe it is worth reminding Fine Gael of this warning, issued in the Dail some years ago by their former leader Enda Kenny: “...the late Ernest Blythe took a shilling from old-age pensioners and the repercussions, in political terms, against Cumann na Gaedhael and the Fine Gael party, lasted for 60 years”. 

One would have thought that Fine Gael would since have learned that Irish people appreciate fairness.

Alas, if anything, Fine Gael have gotten worse. 

Although it is 95 years since the Blythe blunder, Fine Gael are still making the same mistake of pandering to one section of society and creating division and unfairness as a consequence. Is there something in the water they imbibe?

Fine Gael’s lack of empathy and sense of justice will see the party soon begin another 60 years in the opposition wilderness and, who knows, maybe, during that time, the penny, or shilling, will eventually drop.

Jim O’Sullivan

Rathedmond
Sligo

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