Saturday 19 October 2019

Coalition will avert property tax crisis in urban areas - Tánaiste

Tánaiste Joan Burton
Tánaiste Joan Burton

Niall O'Connor

Tánaiste Joan Burton has become the latest Government minister to signal measures aimed at ensuring urban homeowners are not hit with spiralling property tax bills.

Ms Burton said the matter had been discussed at Economic Management Council (EMC) level and suggested that some form of cap may be imposed.

The EMC is the main decision-making body of the Government and comprises of Ms Burton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

The Irish Independent reported last week that Mr Noonan promised Fine Gael TDs at their weekly parliamentary party meeting that he would not allow a situation whereby the rise in property prices had a knock-on effect on bills.

Mr Noonan said it would be "absolutely madness" to allow the property tax to rise at the same rate as house prices -which is central to the concerns of Dublin TDs. Mr Noonan said he was conscious that measures must be taken in the short term.

He said an independent review by Dr Don Thornhill would be published in May and that he would take affirmative action after that.

The senior Fine Gael politician said he was open to a number of options, including a freeze on valuation rates and handing more autonomy to local authorities.

Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin put a motion before the Fine Gael parliamentary party proposing that future charges be linked to the average rate of inflation over three years, and be based on the current self-assessment property taxes rates.

She insisted the property tax should only be changed every three years.

Reacting to the concern about spiralling bills yesterday, Ms Burton said the issue would be tackled by the Government.

"Well, there's been an amount of discussion about this particularly between myself and Taoiseach Enda Kenny and indeed with Michael Noonan, the Minister for Finance.

"Again it's a significant issue because what's happened with the rising property prices in Dublin; I think we're all aware for some people the valuations could rise very, very steeply," Ms Burton told reporters.

"And Dr Don Thornhill, who did a report on the original property tax, has been commissioned to draw up a further report and when we get his finding the Government will be in a position to act on that."

The issue of urban homeowners being unfairly treated by the current property tax system has been a bone of contention for Dublin deputies for several months.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Olivia Mitchell has said the system penalises Dublin households as they end up paying for services in rural Ireland, where house prices are lower.

The current rate of property tax applies until the end of 2016.

Irish Independent

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