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12/18/2012 12:00:00 AM


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Doherty, Pearse

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Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages

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787

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3

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Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages

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Finance (Local Property Tax) Bill 2012: Committee Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages

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Deputy Pearse Doherty

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Pearse Doherty

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Snippet Contents:

According to the Minister, we have not provided a pittance of information or analysis of issues that can be taken up. The Minister and the Government promised this legislation would be fair. The Bill has been discussed by the public for a long period but the Minister's arguments about resolutions are nonsense. The Minister knows the resolutions going through on the day of the budget are a separate matter and do not exist for eternity but only until the Finance Bill is enacted. The Minister is trying to play political games, which is a nonsense. This legislation does not have to go through tonight and can instead go through in January or February, leaving enough time to give people confidence about what is contained in it. We will not be able to deal with certain aspects of the Bill. The Minister has argued this is fair and promised as much but this must be a different type of fairness to what I believe in. I know the Minister's track record. I am a resident of a little parish in Gaoth Dobhair where the Minister's view of fairness hurt people many years ago, when he led the party of which he is now a member.
The Minister's argument is that this tax is fair and progressive but it is not. He should not just take my word for this. We can consider what the ESRI has indicated in its analysis of the 2013 budget. The institute did a distributional impact analysis and released an interim report. Its findings arising from the Fine Gael and Labour budget were that the 20% with the lowest income has taken a hit of just over 1%, with the 20% with the highest income taking a hit of just over 0.5%. The lowest income group has seen twice the impact from the 2013 budget as the group with the highest income. That is not Sinn Féin spin from me; there are many findings from the ESRI with which I do not agree but these findings come from Tim Callan, Claire Keane, Michael Savage and John Walsh, researchers for the ESRI.
The statistics go further and the paper indicates that property tax is a key factor in these results. It argues that for those with low incomes after housing costs, the emphasis is strongly on deferrals of property tax liability rather than income related exemptions or relief. This means the burden of the tax, deferred or otherwise, tends to be greatest on those with low incomes. That is the argument of the ESRI so despite the Minister's impassioned plea that this tax is fair - and mention of the mansion tax - it is clear that the measure is unfair and burdens those on low incomes. I am sure the Minister has read the ESRI report, which goes further by indicating that what will happen in 2014 will make it more unfair on those on the lowest incomes, as the full cost will come into play.
The Minister claimed that I and others in the Opposition have spoken in a ridiculous fashion and that the idea of not taxing homes is simply ridiculous and has no standing. Has the Minister sat down with the Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, and told him how ridiculous he was when he made such claims? Has he told Deputy Enda Kenny how ridiculous he sounded in 1994, before people were sucked into using mortgages to purchase houses at twice the cost of the current value? Before people paid massive stamp duty he made these claims. It is very easy for the Minister to stand up and claim that we are all ridiculous on this side of the House, and that it is ridiculous to speak of a notion of leaving property untaxed. The Minister argues that this will widen the tax base, through a fixed asset, and it is good for revenue and will help get the country going. Has the Minister sat down with the Taoiseach to discuss this?
If he wishes to do so tomorrow, I will quote what he said. He stated: How ridiculous was Enda Kenny to stand in this Chamber and say that?