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Slow progress on property taxes

Despite the €100 household charge introduced in last month's budget, the Government is still making haste extremely slowly with the introduction of a property tax.

In fact, it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Government is doing no more than is absolutely necessary to keep the EU/ECB/IMF "Troika" sweet.

Now economist Ronan Lyons of property website daft.ie has devised a scheme that would allow not just for the rapid introduction of a property tax, but one that would also minimise the inherent unfairness of any such tax towards residents of Dublin and of the other large cities.

Instead of a tax on houses, Mr Lyons has proposed introducing a site valuation tax instead.

This would be levied as a proportion of the value of the site -- Mr Lyons suggests 2pc -- on which the house sits rather than on the house itself.

As houses in built-up areas tend to occupy smaller sites than those in rural areas, the disparity between what urban and rural dwellers pay would be minimised.

Mr Lyons also points out that, by using a database of 1.3 million property sale and rental advertisements placed between 2006 and 2011, it should be possible to work out relative land values throughout the country.

This would allow the tax, which Mr Lyons estimates would cost each household an average of €625 and raise €1bn in new revenue, to be introduced quickly.

With a property tax now inevitable and Mr Lyons having done much of the spadework, the Government should stop delaying and just get on with it.