Siptu demands that household charged be dropped
Published 17/02/2012 | 15:26
THE country's largest trade union has called on the Government to drop the €100 household charge until a fully fledged and fair property tax is imposed.
Siptu general secretary Jack O'Connor stopped short of urging homeowners not to pay the levy and instead urged a new system to exempt the lowest paid.
"It's not our intention to call on people not to pay it. We are very reluctant in the first instance to disobey the law unless in the most extreme circumstances," he said.
The Siptu leader said he would not encourage civil disobedience without being able to guarantee those who refuse to pay could be protected by the union.
Left wing and Independent TDs have been campaigning for 1.6 million homeowners eligible to pay the charge not to register.
Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit TD and opponent of the levy, claimed there is mass opposition to the charge.
"The is a flat tax being imposed on people already struggling to pay rent, pay mortgages and scrape money together for basics like utilities and in many cases food," he said.
Mr Boyd Barrett said the household charge will ultimately become a property tax of €563 on the average house.
Siptu's national executive council called for a fair, progressive and proportionate property tax which asks wealthier households to pay more.
"The Household Charge as currently proposed by the Government is a flat tax which is unfair and regressive in that it subsidises wealthy people at the expense of middle and low income families," it said.
Siptu said those on lower incomes should be exempt from a property tax.
Mr O'Connor said the flat-rate household charge was playing into the hands of powerful lobbyists.
"The way the tax is currently being implemented is playing into the hands of those wealthy and vested interests who oppose the very principle of a fair and progressive property tax system," it said.
The flat-rate 100 euro household charge is expected to generate €160m this year.
Siptu said legacy property tax reliefs, such as the section 23 for developments, could be pulled to plug the gap in the tax take if the Government suspends the levy.
The move would bring in €100m, Siptu claimed, while a further 10pc restriction on landlord mortgage interest relief for both residential and non-residential properties could bring in about €75m.
"We have previously called on the Government to introduce a solidarity levy on those earning over €100,000 which would also make up for lost revenues from the proposed Household Charge," Siptu said in a statement.
Joan Collins, TD from Dublin's south inner city with People Before Profit Alliance, claimed earlier this week that older people are now the most militant section of society as her party campaigns against the household charge.