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Property tax rebel celebrates his victory

THE Fianna Fail TD who took on the party hierarchy on property tax and won says it would have "pushed people over the edge".

Dublin South East's Chris Andrews says he believes the controversial tax is off the agenda for the foreseeable future.

It had been widely anticipated Finance Minister Brian Lenihan was planning to introduce the levy on all homes in December, but this is no longer the case.

Mr Andrews had placed a motion against such a tax on the agenda for a Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting last Tuesday, but it was never debated. It is understood officials in the Department of Finance were convinced the move would prove too unpopular and divisive.

"I believe it most definitely won't be introduced in the December Budget," Mr Andrews told the Herald today.

"Common sense prevailed. People are already on the edge and this would push them over the edge."

It was thought that a new tax now could rake in up to €3bn for the cash-strapped Exchequer, but officials will now have to find another way of coming up with that income.

But Mr Andrews warned that a new Fine Gael/Labour coalition would be likely to introduce the property tax.

"The previous property tax was introduced by Labour and Fine Gael and suspended by Labour and Fine Gael.

"If anyone thinks that they (Labour) are ideologically opposed to it, the proof is in the pudding," he said.

Mr Andrews said a substantial number of Fianna Fail TDs were ready to stand against the tax and he is "very happy with the way it turned out".

"I put it on the agenda to have it ruled out and I think that's what I got. It's something that resonates with people."





Hostile

The idea was first mooted in the substantial report by the Commission on Taxation last September and was met with a hostile reaction from the public.

The commission recommended that the Government do away with stamp duty on new homes and opt for a levy which provided a reliable source of steady income.

It proposed that all homes "should be subject to recurrent taxation, whether through the local government commercial rates system or a recurrent tax on residential property".

kdoyle@herald.ie


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