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Older people could delay paying property tax until they die – Burton

The Social Protection minister says a range of ‘easy-pay options’ are being considered for payment of the property tax.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

OLDER PEOPLE may be able to delay the payments of their property tax until they die and their estate is passed on, a cabinet minister has said.

Social Protection minister Joan Burton said the proposal was one of a number of options being proposed by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, for how the tax could be paid.

Noonan is planning measures which would allow the new tax – to be introduced in Wednesday’s Budget as a direct replacement for the €100 Household Charge – to be paid in a variety of ways, making it easier for households to budget for it.

Burton told RTÉ’s This Week programme that though Noonan was still working on legislation to give effect to the plans, his proposals included “a series of payment options”, which she said were important.

The new tax could be paid in a ‘traditional’ single payment, or potentially be paid by a regular intermittent standing order, Burton said – or be deducted from a person’s wages or social welfare payments, where appropriate.

The minister acknowledged that the latter option could be problematic, however, because of the existence of a minimum social welfare assistance rate which meant only a small percentage of a welfare payment could be removed.

“Somebody’s who on a low income can opt for a deferral,” Burton said, or “defer payment to such time as the property is sold”.

She added that in the case of older people, “they might defer it until their estate is distributed.”

Burton also said it was her personal preference to have universal welfare payments, like child benefit, made subject to income tax so that higher earners might give up a larger proportion of their benefits.

This would be preferable to making the payment means-tested, she said, because a regime of means-testing could be “very difficult for many middle-income families”.

Burton said, however, that IT systems were not currently in place that would allow benefits to be made taxable, and so it was “absolutely important to keep that universal payment at a high level, paid to a caring parent – the mother”.

Burton also dismissed newspaper suggestions that Labour ministers were growing impatient with the performance of the Minister for Health, James Reilly.

“Dr Reilly has a very difficult job in Health… around the cabinet table, to be honest, I’m not interested in personalities”.

“Members of the government have a programme for government, expressed in the Programme for Government,” Burton said.

“If one were to simply focus on personalities, that would simply be to the detriment of the work we have to do for the people of Ireland.”

Open thread: What would YOU do with Budget 2013?

Poll: Which should be introduced: a ‘mansion tax’ or higher USC on top earners?

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Gavan Reilly

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