Thursday 21 February 2019

Fianna Fail accuses Government of ‘playing games’ over property tax

A review of the local property tax system is under way and is due to report in the first quarter of this year.

Darragh O’Brien and Michael McGrath (Niall Carson/PA)
Darragh O’Brien and Michael McGrath (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Fianna Fail has accused the Government of “playing games” over property tax, which is to be reviewed for the first time this year.

Local property tax (LPT) is based on the market value of a house, but the rapid increase in prices has prompted concerns about the hikes in tax homeowners will have to pay.

In 2015, the LPT being paid by homeowners was frozen until 2019.

A review of the system is under way and the Government says it is due to report in the first quarter of this year.

Fianna Fail housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien called on the Government to be upfront about possible increases.

He said: “This review should have been published already. Fine Gael have been playing games with this, people are unsure where they stand – both local authorities and homeowners, I get a sense that they (Fine Gael) are trying to time this in advance of a local and European election to say, ‘Aren’t we great? We’re not increasing the property tax’.

“People see through these games. It’s more of the spin and substance piece. Publish the report, let the Dail debate it, and lets move on and get certainty around the LPT.”

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said: “We have the spectre at the moment of Government ministers publicly calling for changes that they themselves are responsible for bringing about. We’re seeing Shane Ross saying one thing, Joespha Madigan saying another thing.

“The Government need to be coherent on this issue and agree on a collective position, we’re just seeing games at the minute.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe made efforts on Monday to reassure the public that any changes to the LPT will be “affordable and predictable”.

He added that no one will have to pay this year, with the first bill due early next year.

“The intention is not to increase the yield from the local property tax, so we will have to make changes in the band and in the rate as well so people see no increase, or perhaps a modest increase or decrease in 2020,” he said.

Press Association

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