Sunday 20 October 2019

Minister blames price divide across country for property tax delay


Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath. Picture: Collins
Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath. Picture: Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has blamed "geographically uneven increases" in home prices for his decision to postpone property tax reforms.

Homes across the country were due to be revalued later this year for the purpose of assessing their Local Property Tax (LPT) liability.

However, the Government has delayed the re-evaluations by another year in order to try to achieve cross-party support for changes.

Homeowners are still paying the LPT based on 2013 evaluations, while tens of thousands are availing of exemptions now seen as outdated.

An interdepartmental report recently recommended re-evaluations be conducted later this year and end many of the exemptions.

It also put forward five possible scenarios for how LPT should be calculated in future.

The Government favoured seeing the bands reflect property price rises over the past six years.

But Mr Donohoe said: "I believe it is necessary to engage in further consultation to identify a scenario which would deliver on the condition I set, namely, that there should be relative stability for all taxpayers in their liabilities and that any increases should be modest, affordable and fair."

Asked about the exemptions, the minister said he does not want to pre-empt the work of the Budgetary Oversight Committee.

"I expect the committee can complete its consideration of the review's findings and recommendations in a timeframe to allow me to put in place the necessary legislative proposals in advance of any change from November 1, 2020," he said.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath questioned how many people are able to avoid LPT.

He noted that officially there are 11,800 properties bought between January 2013 and 2019 for which LPT doesn't apply.

"The actual number may be far higher because many of the property owners did not have an obligation to register for the LPT.

"That figure is probably between 50,000 and 60,000," he said.

Mr Donohoe said he didn't have figures to hand but will get them. He suggested they are less than put forward by Mr McGrath.

Irish Independent

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