Sinn Féin PMB Repeal the Family Home Tax: Martin Ferris TD, Sinn Féin, Kerry North-West Limerick
While the Government parties may congratulate themselves on the numbers who have paid the Property Tax to date, they must also surely be concerned at the remaining high number of people who have not paid the tax.
Despite the fact that the state has the power to deduct the money from peoples bank accounts or wages or other payments, over 10% of householders have still not filed their payment. That indicates that a significant number of people are making a political and indeed a moral statement.
They are saying to this Government: You may take this money but you are taking it without my consent. That might appear to be a pointless exercise, and one that will incur further loss, but it is a position deserving of respect.
My party’s position on this has been laid out. We felt that it was irresponsible to tell people not to pay in circumstances where the money will be taken anyway, and where threats of penalties have been made.
Some of us here, including myself, have registered and paid, others have not. Those of us who oppose it and have paid have been accused of hypocrisy for not paying. The case is quite clear, the money will be taken anyway but I do respect those who have refused to pay and who are making a point.
I can make my opposition to this tax clear in other ways so I did not believe it was necessary not to pay. The fact that tens of thousands have refused is their way of saying as citizens that they object, just as the majority of people objected to the Household Charge which of course had to be abandoned in the face of mass refusal to pay. So do not delude yourselves into believing that the majority consents to this.
Nor is opposition solely based on peoples concerns over having to pay out more money. That is not even a factor among those who have refused to pay as they know it will be taken from them anyway, and perhaps with penalties imposed on top.
The reason people oppose this tax is because they realise that it is simply another means to extract money to pay for the disastrous deal made over the banks and all that has subsequently flowed from imposing to austerity in order to service the debt which bailing out the banks has incurred.
The vast majority of people do not mind paying tax when they can see that their tax is going to the upkeep of public services and provisions. They do object when they can see that increasing demands on their income are accompanied by an actual decline in those services and provisions because they are also the target of the Government’s austerity policy.
The claim that increasing the amount of money accruing to the state is all to ensure the upkeep of state services rings hollow in the present circumstances. We have all seen that the consistent direction of this Government has been to make cuts across all areas of public provision. There is hardly a household in the state which has not felt the impact of that, along with in many cases the overall economic downturn exacerbated by austerity.
On every sitting day here there are groups outside drawing attention to the manner in which a vast range of necessary provisions have been undermined. In our constituency offices and on the phones here, we are daily hearing about the often severe impact which cuts in payments and services across the board are having on people.
And that on top of the impact of large scale unemployment, which of course has been made worse by sucking billions out of the economy and thereby undermining jobs. It is in those circumstances that the Government’s introduction of this latest assault on household income is regarded, and indeed deeply resented because people realise that the money collected will not actually contribute to any improvement in public provision.
This Bill is our protest against the Property Tax, and against the overall assault on Irish society which has been in train since the disastrous decision was made to put the interests of failed gamblers above the interests of the citizens of this state.