Property tax possibility for Budget: Cowen
Taoiseach refuses to guarantee pensions will not be cut
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has signalled that a property tax is being considered for inclusion in the next Budget.
Mr Cowen praised the way that the 'holiday home tax' had brought in extra revenue for hard-pressed local authorities.
"It was a simple tax, it was complied with and it worked well. We have got to look at other areas such as that ... not because you're trying to just impose taxes for the sake of imposing taxes -- we have got to keep expenditure down," he said.
Last week, Mr Cowen said that in hindsight a property tax should have been introduced during the economic boom to cool the property bubble. The Government has already announced that such a tax is on the way -- but it is not clear when. And there are doubts about how much it will cost each household and how it will be calculated.
The options include a flat tax on every house, a tax based on house size and a tax based on house value.
When asked about the likelihood of a property tax yesterday, Mr Cowen said he had always spoken of the need to broaden the tax system base.
"There are 50pc of those at work who don't pay income tax. In our Programme for Government, we said we are prepared to look at taxes on capital, rather than taxes on income as a way of boosting employment prospects and at the same time ensuring there is a sustainable source of revenue," he said.
Speaking on the Today FM 'Sunday Supplement' show, Mr Cowen also refused to give any guarantee that the old age pensions would be left untouched.
He also did not comment on suggestions that a means test would be introduced so that only higher earners would be targeted.
However, TASC (Think tank for Action on Social Change) has warned that a cut could reverse the fall in pensioner poverty.
"Any move to cut the basic state pension in the forthcoming Budget will further increase pensioner poverty, and will also make the task of reforming our pension system to provide a guaranteed income for older people that much harder," said Sinead Pentony, head of TASC policy.
Mr Cowen also failed to give a date for the holding of the three outstanding Dail by-elections. He indicated that the Fine Gael motion in the Dail this week to hold the Waterford by-election would be opposed and defeated by the Government.
However, Green Party Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said his party would like to see the Waterford, Dublin South and Donegal South West by-elections held alongside the election for new Dublin Mayor and a referendum on children's rights this year.
"That's my personal preference. The Government has to go and make a call on it," he told RTE's 'Week in Politics' show.