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Now Fine Gael promises €30,000 tax break to first-time buyers

Party attempts to outflank FF over Help-to-Buy

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Taioseach Leo Varadkar (right) and Tanaiste Simon Coveney during a visit to Fermoy in Co. Cork. Photo: Douglas O'Connor/PA Wire

Taioseach Leo Varadkar (right) and Tanaiste Simon Coveney during a visit to Fermoy in Co. Cork. Photo: Douglas O'Connor/PA Wire

Taioseach Leo Varadkar (right) and Tanaiste Simon Coveney during a visit to Fermoy in Co. Cork. Photo: Douglas O'Connor/PA Wire

Fine Gael is promising to increase the maximum tax rebate for first-time buyers to €30,000 in the next Budget as part of its pitch to young voters struggling to get on the housing ladder.

The party's General Election manifesto will include a pledge to increase the amount that can be claimed under the Help-to-Buy scheme by €10,000 in the next Budget if it is returned to government.

The rebate has previously been blamed for inflating property prices during the country's housing crisis.

Under Fine Gael's proposal, a prospective home buyer will be able to claim up to 10pc of the purchase price of a property, up to a maximum of €30,000.

The party is attempting to outflank Fianna Fáil, which has said it will raise the Help-to-Buy grant by €5,000 and introducing a new SSIA-style savings scheme to give first-time buyers €1 for every €3 they save up to €10,000.

The Help-to-Buy scheme, which has helped over 15,000 homeowners so far, currently allows first-time buyers to claim up to four years of their income tax back in order to get a portion of their deposit on homes costing up to €500,000.

The grant is a refund of PAYE and Dirt, which applies to both new builds and self-builds. Claimants can get 5pc of the purchase price up to a maximum value of €20,000.

In an example given by the party of how the new policy would work, a person or persons buying a three-bedroom home in Dublin costing €320,000 would only require a deposit of €2,000 provided they have made a certain number of income tax payments in the previous years.

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Pledges: Darragh O’Brien during a Fianna Fáil press briefing on housing in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Pledges: Darragh O’Brien during a Fianna Fáil press briefing on housing in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Pledges: Darragh O’Brien during a Fianna Fáil press briefing on housing in Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar committed to enhancing and extending the scheme in a recent address to the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has published legal advice that a rent freeze would be "unconstitutional" after being accused of doing a U-turn on a cornerstone of its housing policy.

The party released a document from barrister Darren Lehane in which he said a rent freeze would "restrict the property rights of the owners of rental properties" without compensation. He said it could not be justified by the common good or social justice, particularly in the context of existing legislation governing rent pressures zones.

Fianna Fáil's spokesperson on housing, planning and local government Darragh O'Brien said the party would keep the pressure zones in place.

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But he said the existing plan would be reviewed.

Meanwhile, members of 'generation rent' would get a €600-a-year tax credit regardless of whether they live in Leitrim or Dublin under the plan that commits an extra €2.1bn to housing.

When asked if this would be a drop in the ocean for someone living in the capital, Mr O'Brien said it would be "a start".

He also announced that the party would set up a national rent deposit scheme when in government. This would mean that tenants would make a 'lifetime deposit' that would move with them until they withdrew it.

Mr O'Brien also pledged to ban "battery hen style" co-living, prevent cuckoo funds buying up developments, build 50,000 affordable homes that would be priced at less than €250,000 each and penalise land hoarders by doubling the vacant site levy to 14pc.


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