Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Grossly unfair': Farmers should have to pay more property tax says former minister

McDowell said the current system is 'grossly unfair' and described it at as a 'ticking time bomb'

Lawyer: Michael McDowell SC Picture: Tom Burke
Lawyer: Michael McDowell SC Picture: Tom Burke
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

People with very large farms should have to pay more in their property taxes former Justice Minster and leader of the Progressive Democrats Michael McDowell has said.

Speaking in the Seanad, he said gave the example of two families, one of whom lives in a small red-brick terraced house Dublin, and who could have a 90% mortgage on a house which cost them between €450,000 and €500,000.

The other family, he said could live in a 6,000 sq. ft. restored Georgian or Victorian villa in the midlands and they would be liable for the same amount.

“The family in Dublin, might have a mortgage of 80pc or 90pc on their house whereas the family in the midlands might have none and might also have a farm of 300 acres but would contribute the same amount as the family in Dublin to their local authority.

“The unfairness of all of this is that the tax does not in any sense reflect the actual wealth of the owners, in particular if there is a 90pc mortgage,” he said.

McDowell said that there is a way to deal with this, that is, to provide for a different system of valuation and banding of houses in local authority areas so that, if one does live in a very substantial house outside Dublin, one should pay more to the local authority, and if one has a very large farm, one should pay more to the local authority than a family in Dublin in those circumstances.

McDowell said the current system is “grossly unfair” and described it at as a “ticking time bomb”.

“The time has come for us to address this unfairness. People in different parts of the country are being treated unequally and people who are of modest means and who struggle to make a living in this city are being treated unfairly compared with people elsewhere,” he said.

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