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Budget Statement 2013 (Continued)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 2

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  5 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty] We called on it to standardise pension and other tax reliefs because it has been revealed time and again that the top 20% of income earners avail of 80% of those reliefs. Instead, it allows people to continue to claim tax reliefs of up to 41% for private pensions.

What a short memory has the Labour Party and Deputy Gilmore. He was not long in here before his chant went from "Tax the wealthy" to "Tax everybody but the wealthy". Today, it was announced that even maternity benefit will be taxed, so the Government wants to tax children before they are even born. Shame on the Government, as this is only a couple of weeks after the children's referendum.

People in the middle have been asked to give again and again with nothing in return. We can consider how today's budget will affect two people, Micheál and Gráinne. They are lucky enough to each have a job paying just under the average industrial wage and they both need a car to get to work. They have four children and the eldest is in university. We can see how much they are being squeezed by being sent a bill of €1,759.

By applying PRSI to the first €127 of Micheál’s and Gráinne’s salary, the Government is charging them an extra €528 per year. On top of that, the family home is worth €200,000 and has a large mortgage, but it will now be taxed at €405. The child benefit they rely on to make ends meet will be slashed by €456 next year. The band C cars they drive will be taxed at an additional €120 per year. The eldest son in college will now have to pay an extra €250 in student contribution fees. Micheál and Gráinne, with their four kids, are being charged €1,759. If that family does not have the eldest in university but is in receipt of the back to school allowance, the bill would be €1,900. The Government should tell that family that the budget is fair and a measure of success.

One of the more cynical things done by the Government is trying to spin the notion that this budget is fair, and I am sure the backbenchers will be spinning this idea. It is not fair. The Government has claimed it is fair because it has implemented some measures affecting high earners. I welcome the fact the Government has introduced some of policies articulated by Sinn Féin over many years but the action does not go far enough. We welcome the increase in capital taxes, the higher universal social charge on pensions, PRSI being extended to other forms of income, the lowering of the capital acquisitions tax threshold and the increasing of the rates of capital acquisitions and capital gains tax. These are fair measures and I only wish the Government had implemented them before.

Some of these measures are blindingly obvious and we have advocated them for many years. I cannot see why they were not implemented previously but better late than never. The Taoiseach is smirking.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy's leader is nodding off.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is important not to kid ourselves. These measures are a drop in the ocean compared to the pain inflicted on ordinary people today. That pain has been inflicted on top of successive budgets introduced by this Government last year and by Fianna Fáil in the years before. That pain has been inflicted on a certain group of low and middle income earners; they have been deliberately targeted.

A fair budget is not just about tackling high earners but instead it is about protecting people who cannot give any more. The Government has not done that. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have made excuses about limited resources. It seems that is an excuse to make the wrong choices. In Sinn Féin we know this State is spending more than it takes in, and that has created a bill that must be reduced. Sinn Féin has sent proposals to the Government to achieve this, providing choices that added up to €3.5 billion and allowed for new money to spend on restoring and protecting the rights of children and families.

Inniu tá úinéirí tí buailte go holc ag an Aire leis an cháin mhaoine. Tá thar céad míle duine faoi ualach trom ag riaráistí morgáiste. Tá 1.8 milliún duine a bhfuil níos lú ná €100 cu ag deireadh na míosa. Ach tá an tAire i ndiaidh cáin éagórach a chur ar na teaghlaigh céanna seo. We asked the Government to choose a wealth tax instead of a family home tax. Fianna Fáil put the family home tax on the agenda, including it in a four-year plan even before the troika came. The party negotiated it into the memorandum of understanding and looked to include it in its last budget. The current Government did not have to run with that failed policy. This tax is a fiasco waiting to happen.

I will remind the Taoiseach of what he said in 1994 when he opposed the introduction of a family home tax. I invite him to repeat the words.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This is the vampire comment.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty The Taoiseach said it was morally wrong, unjust and unfair to tax a person's house. He has sat opposite smirking at the fact he will introduce this same type of tax, asking people to pay it who cannot even pay their mortgages and who are struggling to get by.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am smirking at the Deputy's leader.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is morally wrong, unjust and unfair. Those are the words of the Taoiseach. During the 2011 election campaign, the Tánaiste, Deputy Gilmore, promised not to introduce a family home tax on residential homes. He said, "We have to remember that many people have already paid a family home tax on their residential home in the form of stamp duty". Shame on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste for betraying the Irish people, who trusted them to live up to the commitments and promises they made. They rode into office on the back of those promises and they are now content to break them.

Today the Government is breaking these promises and there is only one appropriate word - hypocrisy. Those in the Government are hypocrites. Hundreds of thousands of families will be unable to pay this tax. Many more who will be forced to pay it will be pushed further into financial stress or poverty. The proposal will also hurt the economy because it will take money from people's pockets which they would otherwise spend in the local economy every day. Taking this from the pockets and cash tills in the local shop, grocer or barber, there will be a resulting cost in jobs. This tax is anti-family and anti-jobs.

We are talking about people’s homes. The Government has called it a property tax but property is everything: it is houses, shares, horses and yachts. This tax is on people’s homes, and people need their homes. It is not a luxury.

Deputy Brendan Griffin: Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin Is there any property tax in the North?

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty The Government wishes to tax people for having a roof over their heads, even if they have contributed already and are continuing to contribute to economic recovery.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The Deputy is being hypocritical.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Most people’s houses are owned by the banks and most people must pay massive mortgages. For those who bought in the last decade, they are essentially paying dead money in payments on a house that is worth half of what they borrowed. So many young families bought houses because they were encouraged, cajoled and bribed into doing so by politicians, the Government and banks. Many of these families paid stamp duty when buying their homes, with amounts of many thousands of euro in many cases.

The family home tax will not take into account what people earn. There is a threshold of €15,000 for a single person where payment can be deferred but there will be 4% interest for that luxury. The person who is absolutely skint will have to pay more in home taxes as not only must the tax be paid eventually but there will be interest on top. The person who is well off can pay this charge without a blind bit of notice because his or her income has not been touched by Labour or Fine Gael.

The Government faced massive resistance on the household charge of €100. People said they could not and would not pay it. Nevertheless, the Government has sent out threatening letters to families, building up the stress for people who could not pay. The exemptions for the property tax are pitiful and we all know that social housing will be included.

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