Coalition ‘heading for property tax fiasco’

The Government is “sleep-walking” into another household charge-style fiasco with the property tax, opposition politicians have claimed.

It came as charities warned that any such tax must be based on people’s ability to pay rather than a home’s market value.

The Government has committed to introducing a value-based property tax in the December budget.

However, the Cabinet has yet to consider the report of an expert group on the issue, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday that no decisions had yet been made on how the tax would work.

Mr Noonan said he had a preference as to how properties should be valued for the tax, but refused to say what it was.

“None of the detail has been decided yet, and what the base will be, or anything like that, but it will be decided in due course, between now and budget day... Of course I have a preference and I will be stating it in Cabinet and be introducing it in the budget. All that has been decided is that there will be a property tax on family homes, and that property tax will be collected by the Revenue Commissioners by deduction.”

Experts voiced doubts as to whether the Government could introduce the tax by Jan 1.

Tax expert Feargal O’Rourke of PWC said he believed it could take “the guts of nine months” to work out the detail and put the necessary Revenue systems in place. That would mean it would be the middle of next year before the tax was up and running.

“As of now, we have no decisions of policy on any of the issues surrounding property tax by the Government at all, and in four months’ time, we will be starting into the new year,” he told RTÉ radio.

Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen claimed the Government was “sleepwalking into another fiasco along the lines” of the household charge, which the property tax was meant to replace.

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said it was not good enough for ministers to resort to saying no decisions had been made.

“This mantra that ‘no decisions have been made’ … is not a badge of honour. It is an indication that we are out of control and there’s no one at the wheel.

“[Property tax] is not an issue that warrants confusion. It is a condition of the IMF programme, and the Government has had a year and a half to formulate a vision and communicate it. But this hasn’t happened.”

Age Action and St Vincent de Paul said any property tax should be based on people’s ability to pay, and not on the market or rental value of their homes.


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