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COMMENT: Ask your candidates where they stand on LPT

Monday, 20th January, 2020 7:59am
COMMENT: Ask your candidates where they stand on LPT

LPT has been criticised for being disproportionately unfair on Dubliners. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

COMMENT: Ask your candidates where they stand on LPT

LPT has been criticised for being disproportionately unfair on Dubliners. FILE PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

WHEN candidates come knocking on your door in the run up to the general election on February 8, make sure you take the opportunity to ask them where they stand on property tax.

More specifically, ask them how changes to LPT will hit householders in the pocket when the tax is reformed in 2021. The outgoing Government has done its utmost to keep the pin in the property tax grenade during its term in office, with vague reassurances from the Minister for Finance about any increases being modest in nature.

But like any unpopular measure, such as the proposed changes to the TV licence, it’s always best to kick the can as far down the road as possible when there’s an election looming. 

Recent reports that the Taoiseach tried to reach an agreement with Fianna Fáil on property tax were telling. Any such consensus would have pinned Micheál Martin into a corner on the issue and made it even more difficult for voters to distinguish between the policies of the two largest political parties.

Events have since overtaken themselves and the reality of the arithmetic in the Dáil forced the Taoiseach into calling an earlier election than he would have liked. In this scenario, we are even less likely to know what any changes to LPT will mean for us after the election.

The prospect of water charges brought thousands of people onto the streets and eventually forced an embarrassing U-turn by the Government. I always found it peculiar that the imposition of property tax didn’t meet with the same level of opposition, especially as it was introduced in the teeth of a spectacular crash in house prices.

There was something particularly immoral about taxing householders who found themselves trapped in negative equity. Property prices have risen since the valuations arrived at in 2013, which is good and bad news: good if you want to sell your home and get out clean with your lender; bad if the increased valuation is going to hit you hard with a rise in LPT next year.

In my view, there is no justification for a hike in property tax, either now or in the future. A property is only an asset if you sell it at a profit. But as long as you live in it, it’s simply a home. Why should we be taxed on something that isn’t generating any income for us?

I look forward to getting an answer to this question from any election candidates I encounter in the coming weeks.

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