Wednesday 21 February 2018

Stephen Donnelly : Just why the property tax fails every possible test of fairness

Riddled with inequalities, this proposed levy will fail even in its goal of paying for vital public services

Stephen Donnelly

THE property tax hit the Chamber with a bang on Friday. It won't be there long. The Government is forcing it through the Dail in just four days. The tax itself doesn't come into effect until next July, so why the rush?

Simple – they aim to quell debate. Gagging the Opposition is nothing new, but they're keen to gag their own too in this case. If Friday was anything to go by, they're right to be nervous. The Government backbenchers lined up to voice their criticism. This tax, affecting every homeowner, isn't going to get a full airing in the Dail. It's going to be quick – and it's going to be painful. So who's going to pay?

There are 1.7 million occupied houses in the State. The Government, egged on by the troika, has been eyeing the owners of these houses for some time – wondering how it can squeeze money out of them. Last year's household charge was the first attempt. It was ill-advised, poorly implemented and massively unpopular. We'll all be glad when it winks out of existence next year. But what's coming in its place? And what's so bad about it that the Government doesn't want TDs discussing it?

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