If Stephen Collins, writing in today’s Irish Times, is right, most of us will be soon paying about €538 a year in property tax, if not more, depending on the value of the home. It is hard to think of any other tax that blows to pieces the often declared phrase that Irish people will happily pay higher taxes to help the “most vulnerable in our society”. This will kill Fine Gael in particular, and speed up the recovery of Fianna Fail who, even though they agreed with it in government, will u-turn on the issue and promise a “fairer” property tax, whatever the hell that means. Ironically, Fianna Fail will be promising to abolish a local tax just as we approach the 40th anniversary of the infamous 1977 manifesto that abolished rates, when the rot set in and politicians started to believe that spending and taxes could be separated.
Once again, dull thinking and political expediency mean that the govt is not being creative. If local councillors were given the power to reduce the property tax in line with cuts in local authority spending, you would have 900 odd (and some very odd) county councillors tearing apart budgets looking for cuts and savings. Would that not be a good thing? And don’t forget, after the 2014 local election, and leading into the 2016 general election, that responsibility would fall on newly elected Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein councillors. I wonder, is that why Big Phil is dragging his feet on local government reform? So that power will only kick in when the other crowd are running the councils?