There is a reluctant but growing acceptance that a property tax will become a reality, Independent Deputy Michael Lowry told the Dáil. The Local Property Tax (LPT) in its current form has sparked widespread concern and considerable anger from those who simply cannot take any more pain and who are now living in fear, he said.
“The Local Property Tax compounds the harsh effects of this Budget on families, the elderly and those on lower incomes. The persistent message from my Tipperary constituents is simple: their income has been cut to the bone and any further taxes inflicted will devastate household finances. The Budget has created a real fear that Revenue will come down heavily on vulnerable families for the Local Property Tax. These families are understandably frightened at the wide-ranging powers of attachment vested in the Revenue Commissioners.”
Essentially, Deputy Lowry said the Bill will allow Revenue to take money at source from a social welfare recipient, a farm payment, a wage packet or a bank account. These strong-arm collection tactics would lead to families sacrificing other essential needs to ensure the tax is paid.
“This may mean no heating will be turned on, no food will be on the table, bills will fall into arrears or the mortgage will not be paid,” he said. “The deferral system built into the Bill is illogical and will serve only to saddle strained individuals with a mammoth bill later. In fact, it punishes individuals who cannot pay immediately by slapping a 4% interest charge per annum.”
Many families had slogged and saved for many years to put a roof over their heads, he said. They were now being crucified by these measures. The narrowness of the exemptions in the Bill would cause severe hardship and pain for home owners. A system based solely on the value of the property and which takes no other considerations into account was grossly unfair and inequitable.
Speaking on the same Bill, Deputy Mattie McGrath said the Government’s majority is the biggest problem because it thinks it can do what it likes and to hell with the ordinary people.
“It is like having Cromwell back again - to hell or to Connaught. “It is to hell with the ordinary people, let them go to the soup kitchens or refuges for the homeless. That is what the Minister is going to do to people. We are talking about honest-to-goodness people who are going to get a deferral, if you would not mind. I have been dealing with Revenue for 30 years, now going on for 31 years, and have yet to get a deferral from it. Moreover, if one gets a deferral, one will have the luxury of getting a 4% increase, in addition to the money one owes. That is a nice deferral.”