Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012

A reasonable bystander in the Gallery this afternoon could only be struck by the hypocrisy and cynicism of the people speaking on the Opposition benches and by the quality of their debating skills.
In listening to Sinn Féin they will be aware that it supports the average £1,000 per annum property tax in the North. They will also be aware that Fianna Fáil accepted the concept of a property tax in the EU-IMF deal and that in its alternative budget which was not costed by the Department of Finance it proposed the continuation of the household charge which it laterally stated was unfair. The reasonable bystander will also be aware that the Members on the back benches who purport to be socialists are being contradictory in opposing the first reasonable attempt in a long time to establish a progressive form of taxation, one which has some relationship to property, wealth and so on, is a feature of virtually all modern democracies and vital in any meaningful form of local government. It is an appalling position to be in for people who propose to be left wing. It is accepted by the OECD, the ESRI and the Commission on Taxation that this form of taxation to reach our targets is the least threatening to employment. It is the safest option in our attempts to retain jobs. The bands are reasonable in that the bulk of people, whom Members on the benches opposite purport to represent, tend to live in houses worth €200,000, in respect of which the property tax next year will be only €112.50. In a full year it will be €225 and in 2014, €315. Homes worth more than €200,000 – let us be reasonable and fair – are in different terrain.
Deputy Michael Lowry asked how people would know how much they were to pay. There will be a direction from the Revenue Commissioners in this regard. The reason a site tax would not be inequitable is that there could be a mansion with a swimming pool, etc on one site, while on the adjacent site which would be of the same value, there could be a modest dwelling. We will never have real local government until local government can raise revenue, which will be ultimate outcome of the introduction of this tax, is accountable to the people for how it spends revenue and until such time, as in the case of America and most other European democracies, as there is a relationship between local services and local taxation gathering.
While this proposal is not perfect and will require tweaking and monitoring, it is an attempt to achieve a progressive system of taxation and give teeth to local government. It is a real attempt at equity in that the lower bands are unthreatening. We are all aware that people are enduring hardship. That is not being questioned.
In this House we have a moral responsibility to face up to the facts. We are either going to correct the finances and give future generations an opportunity or squander it on the face of opportunism. The responses of the Opposition have been hugely hypocritical

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website