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Fiach Kelly: It's easy to call tax 'affordable' on €200,000 a year

CALM down folks, the property tax is going to be "affordable" -- or so says the Government at any rate.

The political spinmasters have seemingly landed on the buzzword they hope will help flog the impending tax to a weary populace.

The A-word was trotted out numerous times yesterday by the Taoiseach, the Tanaiste and other ministers.

For Enda Kenny, who is on €200,000 a year, Eamon Gilmore, who earns €184,000, and the rest of their well-paid merry men and women, the property tax certainly is affordable.

But who are politicians and spinners to tell the general populace what they can and can't afford?

If the IMF's suggestions of an annual tax at 0.5pc of house value were to be followed, Mr Gilmore would be looking at a bill of around €900 on his home in Shankill, south Dublin.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said it won't be as high as the IMF wants it to be, but the property tax will still impose an extraordinary burden on the coping classes.

Mr Gilmore certainly could afford half the IMF rate -- €450 or so isn't too much when you're on the wages he is.

But the coping classes are already being told that the increased burdens they have had to shoulder are affordable.

Take this month, September. Parents are being told that their "voluntary contributions" -- the payments needed to keep schools going as cutbacks bite -- are affordable.

They're being told increased college fees can be made more affordable by splitting the payment in two, but that still doesn't change the fact that the fees are higher.

Parents and homeowners know what they can and can't afford, whether they can afford new schoolbooks, uniforms, food, light or heat.

They don't need well-paid ministers patronisingly telling them what they can afford.

Instead of trying to make soothing noises about the property tax, Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore would be better advised to level with people as soon as possible.

Make a decision quickly and let homeowners know how much they face having to pay. Only then can people work out their household budgets.

Then homeowners themselves -- and not the Government -- can figure out what exactly they can afford.

Irish Independent