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03/08/2021

Many Laois Offaly households in 'hardship' facing hike in property tax which should be scrapped

Councils also face uncertain over money for services claims Sinn Féin TD

Local Property Tax

Laois Property Tax charges on households going up

The Government must revise their Local Property Tax (LPT) plan rises which will see 36% of homeowners having to cough up more while trying to deal with the pandemic hardships, according Sinn Féin TD for Laois/Offaly Brian Stanley.

Instead of raising the amount homeowners must pay, the Laois-based TD demanded that it be abolished in favour of a wealth tax and a new way to fund councils.

Dep Stanley raised the issue in the Dáil where he put the spotlight on his own constituency.

“There are a lot of homeowners across Laois and Offaly who have experienced serious financial hardship over the last 18 months during the Covid-19 pandemic. For many of those same families, the recent announcements by the Government regarding the Local Property Tax have caused further distress and concern," he said.

The TD said the full range of income earners are hit.

“The truth is that the LPT is a tax on the family home, not on wealth or accumulated property. This tax doesn’t just affect cuckoo funds or millionaires, it targets everyone, including those who have very little besides a roof over their heads. Thanks to these proposed changes by the Government, 36% of homeowners will see an increase in their Local Property Tax.

"These are homeowners who’ve already paid stamp duty when they bought the house. They have some of the highest mortgage interest rates in the EU and have huge outstanding capital sums. So LPT becomes a tax on debit. Some of them also pay management charges in housing or apartments in multi unit complexes.

“We should also remember these families still fork out money for privatised local services like refuse collection and pay their taxes for the upkeep of roads and schools. If homeowners are being asked to pay an increase property tax, then they should have a right to know exactly what they are getting in return," he said.

The Sinn Féin poll topper also wanted to know what hit Laois and Offaly county councils might take.

"Finance minister Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that these changes will see councils keeping all of the money raised from property taxes, instead of the 80% they can retain currently. However, as a consequence, there will be an end to the equalisation fund for local authorities that have a small Commercial rates base"

“At present, Laois and Offaly County Councils receive funding from this equalisation fund. Can the Minister confirm whether the Government will commit to making up the shortfalls through exchequer funding which many councils are certain to face? And for how many years will this funding be provided?’’

He said Sinn Féin has argued consistently that this is not a wealth tax.

"It is a tax on the home. It needs to be scrapped," he said.

The TD said a serious conversation is needed around the best way to tax wealth and fund local authorities.

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