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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Finance (Local Property Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [Private Members]: Second Stage (Resumed)

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Snippet Contents:

A property tax is necessary to restore our public finances. We cannot continue to spend more money than we raise in taxes. We are borrowing approximately €1 billion per month and we still have to reduce the general Government deficit to below 3% of GDP by 2015. A property tax is a responsible way to reduce this deficit. The OECD commission on taxation and the ESRI agree that a property tax is less harmful for the economy than other forms of tax. It is a tax on assets rather than employment and, therefore, will not negatively affect job creation. The rate of the property tax will not be increased in the rest of the term of this Government, after it becomes fully operative in 2014. The Government property tax is fair and progressive, as more expensive properties are liable to more tax in cash terms. This is because the tax is a percentage charge of 0.18% of the value of the property. A further progressive feature is the higher rate for houses worth €1 million or more, which are liable to a rate of tax of 0.25%. This higher rate allows for a lower standard rate for everybody else.
A property tax is a form of wealth tax. Property is the main form of wealth for most people in this country and the best one to tax, as property cannot be moved abroad. A system of voluntary deferral arrangements for owner-occupiers will be implemented for cases where there is an inability to pay, where gross income does not exceed €15,000 for a single person and €25,000 for a couple. For income-stressed owner-occupiers who have an outstanding mortgage, an adjustment to gross income will apply such that 80% of the mortgage interest can be subtracted from gross income in determining an inability to pay. There are some exemptions from the LPT such as for houses in unfinished estates. There is also a three-year exemption from property tax for buyers of new homes and first-time buyers.
Sinn Féin's opposition to a property tax in the South does not appear to be shared in the North. While sitting in government in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin agreed to an increase in household rates of over 10% from 2011 to 2014. This is on top of the existing high levels of tax. A house worth £200,000 in Derry is liable to household rates of over £1,500 per annum. Fianna Fáil would keep the household charge which this Government's property tax replaces. Therefore, Fianna Fáil would actually have a property tax but it favours a flat rate where everyone pays the same amount regardless of the value of the house.