Property tax isn't so bad if you're sitting in a mansion on 150 acres
TWO of Nama's top 10 most indebted developers, a beef baron's son, a Government minister and a TD are just some of the wealthy individuals set to benefit from a controversial exemption contained in the property-tax legislation – the dreaded effects of which are set to be felt by ordinary homeowners across the country in the coming weeks and months.
With section one of the Local Property Act ruling out the inclusion of lands and gardens above one acre in the calculation of the new levy, mansion-dwelling property developers Sean Mulryan and Michael O'Flynn – both of whose companies still owe hundreds of millions to Nama (although these loans are understood to be performing) – will be left to enjoy the benefit of the vast spaces surrounding their sprawling homes in Kildare and Cork, free from any concern that it is driving up their tax bills.
While Mr Mulryan's Ardenode Stud and Mr O'Flynn's Kilcrea mansion will still end up being hit with the higher 0.25 per cent tax which will be applied to properties valued at more €1m, both men can console themselves with the knowledge that this increased rate will only be levied on the portion above the €1m mark.
Another high-profile individual who stands to benefit from the provisions of section one of the Local Property Tax Act is embattled beef baron Larry Goodman's son, Laurence Goodman Jr.
Currently in the process of building his 10,800 sq ft mansion next to his father's own palatial home in Castlebellingham, Co Louth, Mr Goodman Jr – who works in his family's meat-processing empire – will enjoy the amenity of eight acres adorned with their own specially created ornamental gardens, six new oak trees and 36 new lime trees.
Minister for Health James Reilly will be pleased with the property tax's one-acre rule too, given the sheer extent of the lands surrounding his period pile in Moneygall, Co Offaly.
Loughton House – which already qualifies for tax breaks designed to assist the owners of heritage properties with their upkeep – sits on no less than 150 acres.
Across the floor of Dail Eireann and within the ranks of independent TDs, controversial former minister Michael Lowry has extensive lands surrounding his home in Holycross, just outside the town of Thurles in Co Tipperary.
While the erstwhile Fine Gael deputy recently installed a walled garden that any member of Ireland's one-time landed gentry would have been proud of, his home is perhaps best known for the €395,107 extension, which was paid for by Dunnes Stores but was treated in that company's accounts as payment for work at Dublin's Ilac Centre.
Perhaps as he walks the paths around his home, Mr Lowry will take the time to appreciate the sentiments expressed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dail last week.
Responding to criticism of the section-one exemption from People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, Mr Kenny said: "The deputy is entitled, given that Ireland is a country in which there is plenty of land to have the space to stand outside his house and look back to see if it's been painted properly."