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

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly] In instances where they spend their whole life paying for the property, the idea that the Minister would package that and call it an asset to be milked for further taxation is a ridiculous concept. The fact he would have the neck to accuse this side of the House of being out of touch does not make any sense. The disconnect is completely on the Government side.

The Minister said he would look at some of these issues in the Finance Act. That is not good enough. It is a total cop-out, in terms of pyrite. The findings of the pyrite panel were given to Government more than six months ago. It recommended that houses with pyrite should be exempted from the property tax.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan They will be.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly We do not know that. The Minister said houses that demonstrate pyritic heave beyond a certain certifiable amount would be looked at in the Finance Act. Who will certify it? Who will pay for testing and at what level? Already, thanks to the pyrite panel, Premier Insurance, which was remediating houses with pyritic heave, is now not doing so because those houses do not display a visible enough sign of pyrite. Will 1,000 houses or 12,000 houses be exempted? We do not know. Until those questions can be answered, people with pyrite cannot get any solace from the Minister. Will the Government pay for the testing and for every single house in an estate with pyrite? Those houses are valueless. Coincidentally, they were purchased in the commuter belt at the height of the boom and are in massive negative equity. We must address that issue.

By using the Revenue Commissioners, the Minister might succeed in putting his hands in people's pockets or pay packets and take the tax from them, but at what price? If people are down that amount of money from their wages, and already 50% of families are struggling with less than €100 a month of disposable income, something else has to give. This is a tipping point or a turning point.

This is much more like a European situation. People say we should be more like the French or the Italians. In Greece, for example, the property tax is connected to people's electricity bill. In Ireland, 30,000 houses are having their electricity disconnected every day.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy, amendment No. 4 is very narrow.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It is, and it deals with properties that are struggling and home owners who are struggling in negative equity, are in arrears and have paid stamp duty.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The amendment deals with deductions from market value.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It does, and everyone else touched on every other subject under the sun, in fairness. I know it is late in the day and we are all getting grumpy. This is reflective of the fact that the Government has ruthlessly guillotined the debate on the most draconian legislation to come before the House. The Minister might think he can get away with it inside the House but he certainly will not get away with it outside it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I call Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Will I not have a chance to reply, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

(Interruptions).

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I was called to speak.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt As we are discussing Deputy Doherty's amendment I will allow Deputy Boyd Barrett to speak. Many Deputies who wish to speak will not have an opportunity to do so.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is ironic that the Minister would ask for five minutes to reply, when he has ruthlessly guillotined the debate.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I want the courtesy of a reply.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Minister has it within his power to give himself and every other Deputy time to debate the Bill, and he has refused to give us that time. Why would we give him the time?

  When I heard the Minister's response, I thought I was looking at "The Mario Rosenstock Show" or "Irish Pictorial Weekly". The Minister should audition for them-----

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry So should Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett -----because he would be better off working for them than designing taxes like this. This is farcical.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy should go back to St. Michael's school, with his little peaked cap.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett These amendments highlight how farcical, how unfair and how full of anomalies, holes and injustices the Bill is.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The same as Deputy Boyd Barrett, full of anomalies and holes.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Earlier this evening, the Minister revealed the prejudice that lies under his humour and intelligence, because he is funny and intelligent. Underlying his earlier comments was a deep prejudice. He said some people get up for work in the morning and walk past houses where other people do not get up for work in the morning, and why should they not make a contribution too? That gets to the heart of the prejudice within Fine Gael to which the Labour Party is giving cover. The people who do not have work in the morning are not staying in bed out of laziness, because they do not have to contribute or would not like to be in a position to pay their taxes and contribute to the functioning of our society. They are out of work through no fault of their own.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry Good enough for them.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett They are out of work through the reckless behaviour of bankers and speculators and the mismanagement of the State by Fianna Fáil and by the Opposition which did not raise a voice against Fianna Fáil's facilitation of those developers, bankers and speculators. That is why they are out of work, not in a position to pay this tax and in negative equity. They had to pay enormous sums of money in stamp duty. If they have to pay this property tax, they will be doubly taxed.

This is more than an injustice. The Minister has not answered the question. How can people who are in mortgage distress and barely able to keep up with their mortgage payments be expected to pay this tax?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Opposition will not let me reply.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett This point has been raised with the Minister time and again. He gives us a comic routine in response.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish Give us another half hour.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is not funny for the people who cannot make these payments. Government party Deputies do not like it now. They put the guillotine on.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry The Deputy is breaking the law.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy is breaking the law.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Government is breaking our economy and families and destroying lives and livelihoods. They do not like it when they cannot give a smart answer back.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Minister also made an erroneous comment about funding local government. He did not answer the point that local government will be charged. Local authorities will get nothing from the property tax this year but they will be liable to pay for every council house in their ownership and they will load that cost onto the rents of local authority tenants. Even if they get money, they will pay back every penny they get.

The Minister said this is the alternative to what he calls a tax on work. If the property tax is to be taken out of pay packets and social welfare payments, is that not a tax on income? Of course it is. The Minister must think people are fools if they cannot figure that one out. People are not fools.

The Minister's history is wrong. He was wrong when he referred to Lenin not supporting property owners.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen I thought the Taoiseach was the expert on Lenin.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The revolution in Russia was spurred on when the peasants joined up with those in the cities who were faced with injustice.

(Interruptions).


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