Opinion Column

Views expressed on this page are those of the writers, rather than of the Association.

Enid O’Dowd writes (19/02/2012):

 Household tax / Property tax

The ‘household charge’ introduced this year at €100 is an issue causing concern to myself and to some residents I have spoken to.

Officially this new tax is to pay for local services which we currently pay for through general taxation.  There is no proposed reduction in income tax or in other taxes to compensate for this new tax.  In fact general taxation has increased because tax credits have been reduced, the Universal Social Charge (USC) has been introduced and the standard Vat rate has been increased from 21% to 23%.  So this new ‘household charge’ is double taxation.

 What guarantee do we have that local services will even be maintained, let alone improved?

 Is this household charge in effect  going to help pay off the debts racked up by irresponsible bankers and speculators?

 The government has announced that next year the ‘household charge’ will be replaced by a ‘property tax’ based on self valuation of your home. This means that residents of areas like ours will pay more than people with larger houses and gardens who don’t live in Dublin. While property values in our area have dropped (as they have everywhere) they are still higher than equivalent houses in other parts of Dublin and in the country.

 If this household charge is to pay for local services, why are tenants, council and private, not being asked to pay? They use local services too.

 And, the fact of owning your home does not necessarily mean you can afford to pay more taxes. The opposite may be the case!

 Nor does being a tenant necessarily mean you are unable to contribute to local services.

There is a campaign to stop the household charge www.nohouseholdtax.org  and it has a hotline 1 890 989 800. I am not involved with this campaign; I merely attended one of their public meetings and found it interesting.

I have nothing against local taxation, or specific charges for local taxation. Specific charges can be a good thing as they may discourage waste. But all residents should pay for local services, not just those who, out of their taxed income have bought or are buying, a home for their family.

The Inter-Departmental Group on Property Tax is looking for submissions by 16 March to propertytax@environ.ie. Details of the terms of reference of the Group and guidelines for submissions are available from www.environ.ie. It is important that residents make their views known.

Feedback on this opinion piece is welcome at emodowd@gofree.indigo.ie