‘Vital decisions needed’ on distribution of local property tax

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been told it is vital the Government decides on changes to the distribution of the local property tax (LPT) next year so local authorities can fix budgets.

The advice will add pressure on the Government to decide on raising the tax in line with house price rises a year ahead of schedule.

The 77-page briefing document released last night, details how the Government must decide on its distribution by early next year, otherwise councils will lack funds. It states: “A government decision/memo for information in relation to the distribution model for LPT in 2018 is essential in the immediate term... to provide funding certainty for local authorities as early as possible, in order to enable them to meet statutory deadlines and budgetary obligations.”

The Thornhill review of the tax in 2015 saw any changes frozen until 2019. However, a decision on distributing the tax from counties will likely see the Government having to indicate if the tax will be increased or what level it will be at for house prices sometime next year, before changes apply in 2019.

The original distribution model saw 80% of it locally retained while a remaining 20% went as top ups to other areas with lower tax bases.

Mr Murphy has also been advised about promises in the programme for government on several referendums. He has been advised to progress a commitment on voting rights for citizens outside the State on presidential elections as well as the issue of Seanad reform.

Other commitments include votes regarding a women’s place within the home, the offence of blasphemy, and giving the Office of Ceann Comhairle constitutional standing.

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