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Government intends to tax people from the womb to the tomb – McDonald

14 December, 2012 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon on the Property Tax Bill Sinn Féin Deputy Leader said this government intends to tax people from the womb to the tomb. Deputy McDonald said the decision to introduce a property tax into a system that is buckled by a property crash and financial crisis is not an intelligent decision.

Full text of Deputy McDonald’s speech follows:

Mary Lou Property Tax Speech 14.12.2012

This week the Central Bank released devastating figures on mortgage distress.

One in four residential home owners are unable to maintain the original mortgage contract on their homes.

Let’s be really clear about what this means.

One in four residential homeowners are in such deep financial distress that they are unable to make their monthly mortgage repayments. They are either behind in their payments, have rescheduled their mortgage or indeed entered into interest only agreements.

There are the tens of thousands of additional homeowners who are making the monthly payments but are doing so at huge personal cost. Holidays are now considered a luxury. The weekly shop is a struggle and the electricity bill is agonised over. We cannot even begin to imagine their stress at this time of the year as they try to make sure their kids have a half way decent Christmas.

Let’s not forget all of these families and homeowners have something in common – they paid significant amounts in stamp duty on the very houses they are now struggling to pay for. For so many – particularly in Dublin – homes that are now worth up to half what was paid for during the height of the boom.

So what’s Fine Gael and Labour’s response to this crisis?

The introduction of a property tax!

You actually couldn’t make this stuff up.

Of course it’s no skin off any Minister’s nose – on a salary of 169 grand a year they are well able to pay up. But for the average family trying to keep their head above water this is an absolutely devastating blow.

Why on earth would you introduce a property tax into a system that is buckled by a property crash and financial crisis?

It is simply not an intelligent decision. Families up and down the country will be unable to pay it. Those that can pay will do so at the cost of heating their homes, adequately feeding their children or indeed looking after their own health. Even if you take the societal impact of the tax out of the equation it till makes no economic sense. The property tax will actually take money out of the real economy and into the black hole of bad bank debt.

Fine Gael and Labour may be introducing the property tax – but Fianna Fail was its creator. Back in 2010 Fianna Fáil told us that a Property Tax was a critical component in the state’s national recovery.

Our people have suffered six austerity budgets in a row. Critical services in health, education and social protection have been reduced and in some cases withdrawn all together. Families are bearing the financial and human cost of this loss.

Figures on the live register remain doggedly at just under 15 per cent. This Government like Fianna Fáil before them refuses to step up – invest in our country’s future and get our people back to work. This crisis cannot be resolved by picking the pockets of those who have nothing left to give.

Yet the best that Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin can come up with are additional taxation measures specifically targeted at low and middle income workers, the unemployed, pensioners, and pregnant women. They’ll tax you from the womb to the tomb – and turn a blind eye at every turn when it comes to the significant wealth that still exists in Ireland.

Let there be no bones about it – Fine Gael and Labour have choices. Labour could have manned up and delivered on their commitment to increase the tax take from those on salaries over 100,000 euro.

The Troika have told me personally that they don’t care how the Government reaches its revenue and expenditure targets – the targets just need to be met.

Fine Gael and Labour could have replaced the Property Tax with a Wealth Tax when they re-agreed the Troika deal after setting up shop together – they simply choose not to. France has a Wealth Tax. Spain is re-introducing its Wealth Tax. Norway, Sweden and Iceland have a Wealth Tax. This is not a revolutionary proposition - its common sense and good economics.

Central Bank Quarterly Accounts for Ireland released in August of this year state that the household net worth in 2012 is 447 billion euro.

The Capgemini 2012 World Wealth Report states that Ireland “saw a 16.8 per cent rise in its High Net Worth Individual population - individuals with net assets in excess of 1 million dollars”.

In a Dáil debate in 2011, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan estimated that a French-type wealth tax implemented here would raise between 400 to 500 million euro in a full tax year.
Since then the French government has strengthened the legislation underpinning their wealth tax and expect the annual yield to double.

This is all about choices – although for Labour it’s all about clinging to Fine Gael. To hell with pre-election commitments – in fact to hell with the people who put their trust in you.

This tax is going to be the tax that people simply cannot bear. Enough is enough.

The tax in itself is despicable in its spirit but its application is truly odious. The notion that you would deduct this tax at source – be it a social welfare payment or indeed any other state payment is simply disgraceful. You intend to withhold tax clearance certificates from the self-employed - which in effect will make it impossible for them to do business.

Again this is simply not intelligent – and it is wrong.

There is no factoring in of ability to pay. No legislative allowance for the stark reality that many families will be unable to pay. To add insult to injury you intend to add an 8 per cent penalty to those who cannot pay.

What does that say to families and their children? You didn’t pay the property tax because you needed to feed your children – well, we’ll deduct the money at source, add an extra 8 per cent and your kids can go hungry. Your house can remain cold. Not our problem.

What do say to Ann Byrne in Cabra who cares full time for her severely disabled husband and has four children?
She’s already lost….
325 euro from the respite grant
200 euro in the back to school allowance
456 euro child benefit
She will have to pay an additional 10 euro for her husband’s medication and of course she now faces your Property Tax.

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