Sinn Féin cautiously welcomes possible Government u-turn on property speculators
Responding to remarks from Minister Noel Ahern today suggesting that speculative property developers be ‘taxed out of existence’, Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson and Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin gave the statement a cautious welcome. Pointing out that this has been a long-standing Sinn Féin proposal, one opposed by Fianna Fáil in the past, he reminder the Minister that the Government re-introduced tax relief for second homes a number of years ago, and called for its removal, as well as increased tax for speculators. Deputy Ó Caoláin concluded however, by pointing out that ‘it is a long way from an off the cuff remark by a Junior Minister to a shift in Government policy in the Budget’.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD said: “Sinn Féin has proposed for a number of years the notion of increasing Capital Gains Tax to 40% for speculative property owners. The indication from Minister Noel Ahern today that the Government may be considering such an option to address the damage rampant property speculation is having in Irish society, is something I cautiously welcome.
“This belated, and as yet unconfirmed, conversion of the Government to one of Sinn Féin longstanding economic proposals is a positive turn of events that reminds one that a General Election is less than a year away and Minister Ahern needs to be seen to be doing something. The failure to address property speculation as a key driver in house prices, up 15.4% in July of this year according to a report last week by the ESRI, is crippling attempts by young families to get on the housing list.
“However I would suspect that Minister Ahern is guilty of amnesia over the decision by Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy to take away tax reliefs on second homes in 2000, only to re-introduce them the next year. This tax relief, the removal of which was a key recommendation of the Bacon Report, would save the exchequer €60 million a year and it is worth noting that the year it was not in operation was the only one where we did not have double digit increases in house prices for the last five years.
“If the Government is serious about this, Sinn Féin will expect to see the abolition of this tax relief and the introduction of penal levels of taxation for speculative property owners in the December budget. We are cautious however, knowing that it is a long way from an off the cuff remark by a Junior Minister to a shift in Government policy in the Budget.”