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Government must prevent citizens being ripped off in Green REIT sale – Pearse Doherty TD

31 July, 2019 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has once again called on the government to make urgent tax reforms to prevent the exchequer being denied hundreds of millions in tax avoided in the potential sale.

The call came following Wednesday’s announcement that Green REIT were in talks with Henderson Park over the sale of their shares or asset portfolio.

Teachta Doherty said:

“The impending sale of Green REIT could mean the Irish taxpayer is denied hundreds of millions of euros in tax as a result of Fine Gael’s long-standing support for tax avoidance.

“Depending on how the sale is progressed, international property investors in Green REIT will not pay a cent in capital gains tax (CGT) at the current rate of 33%.

“For domestic unitholders, they are also likely to avoid any CGT on the sale of commercial properties held for more than three years within Green REIT’s vast portfolio.

“Furthermore, the nature of the sale could also mean that any buyer won’t pay the 6% stamp duty necessary on the sale of commercial properties. Instead, they may only be liable for 1% on the sale of shares.

“In 2017 I successfully forced the government to ensure that sales of shares from property-rich companies fall under the 6% stamp duty paid on commercial property, instead of the 1% paid on shares.

“But there is now speculation in the industry that the 6% commercial property rate could be circumvented. The government must clarify this immediately and has an urgent responsibility to ensure that the legislation on this issue is watertight.

“The Green REIT deal is shaping up to be one of the largest property sales in the state’s history, and without rapid action from this government it could also mark a staggering loss of revenue to the exchequer.

“But knowing this government’s appalling record of subservience to big investors at the expense of citizens here, we won’t hold our breath.

“Failure to act to prevent a tax rip-off in the Green REIT sale would be the latest in Fine Gael’s long record of waste and squander of our public finances in to the hands of banks, big property investors, and private corporations.

“The coming Budget is a chance to put the people first. The government must immediately end the CGT exemption, and increase the withholding tax applied to non-resident investors.”

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