Wednesday 24 January 2018

Coalition commits to 'freeze in property tax rates until 2019'

The Cabinet meets in the dining room in Lissadell House, Co Sligo, yesterday
The Cabinet meets in the dining room in Lissadell House, Co Sligo, yesterday
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

The Government has committed to a freeze in property tax rates for hard-pressed home owners, as house prices continue to rise around the country.

Speaking as he arrived to a meeting of the Cabinet in Lissadell House in Co Sligo, Finance Minister Michael Noonan pledged there would be "no future shocks in the demand for property tax".

When homes and properties were given valuations in 2013, the Coalition said that the tax would remain unchanged until 2017.

However sources now suggest the freeze could be extended until 2019.

Mr Noonan said that since the valuations were done, property prices in Dublin have increased by 40pc, and by around 20pc in the rest of the country.

"I'm not, if we're back in Government, (going) to have a situation where there's a huge jump in the take from property tax... So what I'm committing to the people in advance (of the Thornhill report) is that there's going to be no sudden shocks in the demand for property tax," he said.

The rise in property prices presents a headache for Mr Noonan as he prepares for the Budget, as presently owners face enormous hikes in their property tax bills when they are next assessed in 2016. Mr Noonan said that property tax is "the big issue economically and politically", adding that the Government is examining ways "to keep the tax take about the same as it is now".

There are indications that different solutions are under consideration by the Government, such as whether to introduce a flat rate nationally or whether the tax would be adjusted according to location.

"We'll have to work out how we'll do future valuations and whether it will be (a) national charge or whether there will be some local element for some local authorities in it," Mr Noonan confirmed. He also said the recovery "is bedding down now, it's becoming deeper" and confirmed that the deficit for 2015 will come in at around €2.3bn, which is less than predicted.

"Obviously, that's very good news in terms of the Budget," he said, adding that he expected to have between €1.2bn and €1.5bn to spend, although "there are fragilities in the recovery we need to make sure are addressed as the year goes by".

It is the first time that Enda Kenny's Government has held a Cabinet meeting outside Dublin, and Lissadell House was chosen to mark the 150th anniversary of WB Yeats's birth.

The Cabinet approved the publication of the childcare report published by Children's Minister James Reilly. However, the Taoiseach said it wasn't going to be possible to deal with every issue in the report, "so it's a case of deciding what the best strategy is and where the priorities lie".

He added that the recommendations in the interdepartmental report "will require careful consideration" with regards to the Budget.

Ministers also unanimously agreed on a new law to give tens of thousands of adopted people the right to acquire their birth certificate for the first time.

Irish Independent

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