The planned Property Tax is a new low for this Labour / Fine Gael government. It amounts to straightforward robbery of working class people, as well as a huge attack on people’s civil liberties.
The Property Tax, set at 0.18% of the value of a home, will cost ordinary homeowners an average of over €300 a year (see full break down in box 1), but this will likely rise over time towards the IMF goal of 0.5%, or almost €900 a year for the average house. In an attempt to get a foot in the door, the property tax bill for this year will be halved, to an average of over €150.
This attack on our living standards comes on top of huge hits ordinary people have already taken. According to a recent credit union surgery from before the recent budget, almost 1.4m million people were struggling to survive, with less than €50 spending money a month. Worse than that, 600,000 had no money left once their bills were paid. On top of that, December’s budget is estimate to have taken another €1,000 from the average family, with it’s brutal cuts to child benefit, hikes in car tax, and effective increase in PRSI.
In this context, the Property Tax bills the government plan to send in March threaten to push hundreds of thousands of families into poverty, all simply to pay off the debts of the bankers and speculators.
Progressive tax? Austerity Tax!
In order to try to cover their tracks, the Labour Party in particular are desperate to try to present this as a progressive tax. In reality the super rich remain protected by this government from any serious imposition.
One in eight of Ireland’s richest individuals are so-called ‘tax exiles’ (read tax dodgers), who have not been gone after, despite repeated promises. In reality, these people alone could relatively easily be forced to cough up far more than the entire amount this Property Tax will raise. Even for those super rich individuals and business who do pay taxes, Ireland has one of the lowest rates of tax on high earners, and the lowest tax on profits in all of Europe. Starbucks have only paid a total of €35,000 in tax in Ireland over the last 7 years, and companies like GE Capital and Google manage to scam the system through various loopholes to pay only 0.5% and 2% corporation tax respectively.
Instead of going after the rich, they have chosen to implement this tax on the family home. Just how rotten this tax is shown by the fact that it is now planned to apply it to council houses, a cost that councils will undoubtedly try pass on to tenants, whilst at the same time they are planning to scrap the second homes tax (NPPR), effectively cutting the bill for landlords.
As well as being a huge attack on people’s living standards, the property tax legislation is also a draconian attack on people’s civil rights. The government have given Revenue the powers to deem you guilty until proven innocent, so if they say you are liable, it falls to you to disprove them, and to rat out who is liable if they ask. Most importantly, for those who refuse to register, they are threatening to forcibly deduct the property tax, and €200 for unpaid household charge, from wages and social welfare payments from 1 July.
As the article on how we can fight the property tax outlines, it is therefore vital that as well as maintaining the household tax boycott and building a mass boycott of the property tax forms, we must also build a mass militant movement strong enough to force the government to back down from these threats. With Labour in particular already weakened, a strong and militant movement that taps the huge anger that exists could break their will to implement their draconian plans.