The Minister for Finance has moved to defend the Government’s decision to put off changes to the local property tax for another year.
Local Property Tax (LPT) rates are currently calculated using property valuations from 2013.
The Government was due to update the valuation in the coming months; however, that has now been deferred – meaning property owners will see no changes to their bills until at least 2021.
The decision has been labelled “cowardly” by Sinn Féin – which has accused the Government of deferring tax increase until after the May elections.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that, without the deferral, 58% of people would have faced an increase of €200 or more next year.
He said he will use the extra time to secure agreement in the Oireachtas on how to introduce the increases.
“I believe, with some time across this year, we will be able to get agreement in the Oireachtas towards a form of LPT that will mean a majority of citizens will not face an increase and those who do face an increase will only go up one band,” he said.
He said he will publish details of his proposals this morning – and insisted his plan would still collect more money for the Exchequer into the future.
“It is going to take me a lot of time to get agreement on that in the Oireachtas and I don’t want to find myself in a situation later on this year that people’s bills are automatically going up by a large amount,” he said.
I am this evening announcing a deferral of the revaluation date for Local Property Tax(LPT) bills so that there will be no change in bills by Central Govt until 2021. Further consultation aims to ensure that any increases would be modest, affordable &fair https://t.co/oLobNgWKFl
— Paschal Donohoe (@Paschald) April 2, 2019
Local Property Tax
He said there would have been “no surer path” to losing the tax altogether than allowing the increase to come in without having the changes agreed in the Oireachtas.
He admitted that he has been aware of the need for these changes “for a while” but said he is addressing it now because he does not believe either of the options put to him by the Oireachtas “delivered the objectives many people in the Oireachtas think.”
He said it will take some time to reach agreement in the Oireachtas on the new approach.
“I am saying people will know where they stand up until 2021 and I am saying, I am going to use the coming months to secure the future of this tax,” he said.
“It is a deferral of a single year.
“I think once the Oireachtas becomes aware of all of the complexities of the different options that we will have to consider, it simply will take more time than many anticipate to get agreement on the future of this tax.”
"Cute hoor politics"
The Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the Government must be very clear with the public on its plans for the tax.
“Sinn Féin has been consistent in outright opposition to the Local Property Tax,” he said. “Fine Gael has championed the tax but is now afraid to announce their plans.”
“They previously kicked the can down the road before the last general election. To do so again in the mouth of local and EU elections would be cute hoor politics and wouldn't go unnoticed.”
He also warned that further delays to the changes could be open to Constitutional challenge.