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Pearse Doherty: Sinn Féin is committed to abolishing the property tax

After the rejection of Sinn Féin’s bill to repeal property tax legislation last night, Pease Doherty writes that the tax could be the tipping point for families across the state.

Image: pogonici via Shutterstock

AS SINN FÉIN’S finance spokesperson, I have published legislation to repeal this unfair tax on the family home. We commit the party to abolish it if we are in government after the next election.

In the meantime, all Sinn Féin councillors returned after next year’s local elections will be mandated to support the maximum reduction of 15 per cent in the property tax.

Last night in the Dáil the government parties voted down my bill to repeal property tax legislation.

New government is continuing with failed policies

We have had over two years of this Fine Gael-Labour coalition government. It is a government which, despite all its promises and commitments to change how things are done in this state, has instead, continued with the failed policies of Fianna Fáil.

Every day that passes it is clearer that the only real opposition party in the Dáil is Sinn Féin. Fianna Fáil presided over the economic disaster for which the people are suffering.

From when it was first suggested, Sinn Féin’s opposition to the government’s family home tax has been clear. It has been introduced now by Fine Gael and Labour, but it was first proposed by Fianna Fáil.

Our position is that this tax is unfair, this tax is unjust, this tax is unacceptable. It must be repealed.

This is a tax on the family home

They call it a property tax but it is a tax on the family home, a tax on people who are already under pressure financially in so many ways.

The government likes to accuse Sinn Féin of supporting a property tax in the North, but the system there is completely different. There is not a property tax in the North. There is a rates system in the North.

The Assembly does not have fiscal powers since they are retained by Westminster at this time.

The rates in the North finance education, the health service, roads, water and sewerage provision, waste collection, septic tank emptying, free prescriptions, emergency services and much more which are provided at no extra cost to tax payers, unlike what is proposed by this government. People will get nothing in return for this tax and revenue raised by it will go to pay bondholders to which the Irish people have no moral obligation.

The government used all means at its disposal to take this tax. In fact, it has enacted the legislation in an unprecedented way in order to dip its hand into the pockets of citizens.

Many families will be pushed over the edge by this tax

The way the government has gone about this is indicative of just how much pain has already been inflicted on struggling households. Fine Gael and Labour took great pains to introduce legislation which would give people no choice about paying this tax.

They knew how much people, citizens who can’t take any more, would resist paying this unjust and unfair tax, so they enacted a law to permit the revenue commissioners to put their hands into citizens’ bank accounts, credit union savings, paycheques, old age pensions and social welfare payments.

Many families up and down the country will be pushed over the economic edge by this tax. The difference between having enough to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to pay the electricity or gas bill, to be able to fill the tank with heating oil can come down to having 50 euro left at the end of the month, or being another 50 euro overdrawn.

Sinn Féin will continue to actively campaign to resist this unfair tax on the family home. It can be repealed.

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Tipping point

Sinn Féin has alternatives that are fair.

A wealth tax is one that is levied on all property of the wealthy. Other options include a 3rd rate of tax at 48 per cent on earnings above €100,000, a gambling levy and increases in Capital Acquisitions Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

The government had these options and chose not to take them. They must be held politically accountable for their political choices.

This home tax is the brainchild of Fianna Fáil.

It will be the tipping point for families across the state. The government, Labour and Fine Gael, are ignoring the plight of the people and together we must make it clear to them that enough is enough.

Pearse Doherty is a TD for Donegal South-West and is Sinn Féin’s Dáil spokesperson for Finance. He has previously served on Donegal County Council and Seanad Éireann.


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