Sunday 18 March 2018

Our homes are not an option for taxation -- we have paid enough

The Government still seems locked into the delusion that houses are trophies to be plundered, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

'Brian Lenihan reassures IMF," the headlines trumpet. But who's reassuring us? On the contrary, opening a newspaper right now is tantamount to an exercise in terror and anxiety that makes The Blair Witch Project look as tame as a teddy bears' picnic.

It wasn't all bad news, admittedly. Growth of seven per cent in the second quarter of the year is not to be sniffed at. Those "green shoots" of recovery also made a welcome reappearance during the Minister of Finance's speech in Washington. Best of all, Lenihan looked and sounded statesmanlike. Trustworthy. After recent debacles, that's the kind of good international publicity money can't buy. (Which is just as well, because we haven't got any).

Suitably sweetened, though, it was then on to the main diet of Bitter Pill a l'Austerity, as Brian Lenihan used his trip to the US to lay out the challenge for our State in matching what comes in via taxation with what goes out in public spending. Welfare and public sector wages grew out of control in the boom years, he told a meeting of bondholders in New York -- check. "The tax base needs to be broadened" -- no one's quarrelling with that. "Half of income earners pay no income tax" -- obviously that's unsustainable. "Ireland has no property tax or water charges" -- whoa, hold it right there, mister. Run us through that one a second time.

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