Property Tax And The ‘Constructive Left’


From top: LPT logo; Cllr Dermot Lacey

Dermot Lacey writes:

It was extraordinary that in a lengthy article about Local Propery Tax that Fine Gael Deputy Josepha Madigan managed to not even mentions the words “Local Government” once.

Yes, it looks like once again we are having a debate on Property Tax/Council Charge in the absence of virtually any contribution from those who actually work within the local government sector and who try to make a dysfunctional system work at all.

Instead we have had myriad opinion pieces from academics, ill informed commentators, vested interests and frequently the the Far Left and the Nationalist Left who have opposed every single suggestion as to how we should finance our system fairly and with democratic accountability.

Now Deputy Madigan can be added to the list.

Too often the voice of the constructive left has been sidelined and the platform left to the opportunists. Across the world Socialists and Social Democrats advocate payment into a collective fund, toward the provision of collective services.

All across the world, that is, except for the Trendy Left and Nationalist Left in Ireland. Here they simply oppose, protest, march, campaign and instill fear and selfish individualism.

I oppose their agenda just as much as I oppose those who broke this country and brought Ireland to its knees. However we can not just abolish taxes willy nilly because they are unpopular. We must refine and reform.

No Public representative particularly wants to advocate more tax. However, surely this country has had enough of those who promise without cost and who offer Public Services without any reference to payment or appropriate taxation.

The truth is that since the populist and cowardly abolition of Domestic Rates Local Government has been starved of funding. The promise to reimburse Councils for the Rates foregone was never honoured by Government.

I have calculated that since that decision approximately 8 billion has been withheld from Dublin City Council alone by Government. That cannot be sustained.

It is clear that the Property Tax has many flaws I hope that in the period between now and the Local Elections scheduled for 2019 we can use the period to tackle those problems and develop a fairer and more accountable model.

I have proposed before that a Forum on the Financing of Local Government be established. It would be comprised of the main Political Parties, the Social Partners and the Councillor Representative Bodies.

The Forum would be charged, with agreeing a consensus approach on the issue. There would be an opportunity to contribute for the wider public and it would be given a maximum of six months to report.

The Forum could consider either a national and common approach to the funding issue or, as I would prefer, a range of options that could be determined, as appropriate by local elected Councils.

These could include everything from property taxes, a tourist or hotel bed levy, planning enforcement charges, a variable income or sales tax and so on.

Real responsibility will then rest with local Councillors who will also have real flexibility in how to spend the money.

Proposals for reform are still possible in any genuine refinement of the Property Tax legislation. Fine Gael TDs who are vocal on the Plinth and indeed the Opinion Columns might now engage actively in the Parliamentary Party rooms to deliver on some of these:

1) Property Tax raised locally should be retained by the relevant Local Authority in which the money is raised.

2) That price variation in areas be recognized as a reality with appropriate banding. The charge would also reflect the size and value of the property.

3) That an ability to pay clause be an essential element.

4) Central Government must not use LPT income as an excuse the further reduce Local Government income.

5) That Local Councils be continued to vary the nationally set rate by a maximum of 15% but that the consquences of any variation be part of the public documentation on the decision.

6) Provision be made for costs incurred in protecting and upgrading Heritage and Cultural properties that are open to the public.

7) That a penalty would be applied for any deliberate dereliction of property in an attempt to avoid payment. In short that there be no reward for dereliction of property.

8) That real acknowledgement of the enormous sums expended in Stamp Duty during the years 2008 to 1998 be dealt with through a sliding scale of abatement.

9) That given the normal high costs incurred with the purchase of a first house that an abatement sliding from 70% to 20% be applied for the first five years of such purchase in future.

10) That provision be made to integrate waste charges and water charges into the LPT with appropriate reductions for sustainable usage.

Financing is central to any real reform of Local Government and, in my opinion, reform of Local Government must be central to how we reform Ireland. Honesty rather than sloganeering and playing to the gallery must be central to both.

Over the last three years Labour on Dublin City Council has sought to balance the high costs in Dublin with the need for real investment in Public Services.

Incredibly we were consistently opposed by a coalition of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Ultra Left and Sinn Féin in their collective desire to ensure popularity.

It is time we had a long needed honest debate on Local Government Financing. Fairness in taxation and provision of quality needed Public Services are not incompatible but indeed essential.

Dermot Lacey is Leader of the Labour Group on Dublin City Council. Follow Dermot on Twitter: @LaceyDermot

99 thoughts on “Property Tax And The ‘Constructive Left’

  1. Harry Molloy

    Good piece and I enjoyed its tone which I found pragmatic and constructive, as opposed to reactive, inconsiderate and insincere that is often the case with an “oppose the government at all costs” mentality.

  2. A snowflake's chance in hell

    oh my. What an excellent article

    Note to SJW, SF and Soc Dem types – this is what a real politician looks like

    1. Topsy

      A has-been​ of a politician. Rejected by the people. Labour buried beyond redemption. Pigs at the trough when given the opportunity.

      1. A snowflake's chance in hell

        He made a number of valid points

        You could consider whether as a lowly councillor he’s one with the snout in the trough or can you distinguish between public service and opportunism?

      2. thecitizen

        What do you mean a has been? He has been consistently supported by the people of his ward for years. Get your facts straight before you mouth off.

      3. Dermot Lacey

        You should try not be personal. For the record I have been reelected at every election since first going on Council in 1993.

      4. A snowflake's chance in hell

        How is that man a ‘has been’ – he HAS BEEN a councillor for over 20 years!

        Has NOT BEEN rejected by the people so far.

        You’re the pig.

  3. MoyestWithExcitement

    It’s a real shame that BS has decide to give right wing reactionaries like Lacey a platform to spout what is essentially propaganda. He has pretty much every other media outlet in the country to sell this tripe to.

    1. Rob_G

      I don’t think you understand the concept of right wing and left wing; creating/implementing taxes is typically viewed as a left wing activity.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yes, Clamps. I support the anti fascists taking to the streets to stand up to the violent right wing terrorist oppressors that you support.

    2. Listrade

      “I oppose their agenda just as much as I oppose those who broke this country and brought Ireland to its knees.”

      Just a pity he only refers to them in the pejorative: Trendy Left, Far Left and the Nationalist Left and the Ultra Left. Something he doesn’t do for those who brought the country to its knees.

      “Incredibly we were consistently opposed by a coalition of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Ultra Left and Sinn Féin in their collective desire to ensure popularity.”

      A coalition…but only the “ultra left” are to be criticised for government policy rather than the government

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        “Just a pity he only refers to them in the pejorative: Trendy Left, Far Left and the Nationalist Left and the Ultra Left.”

        Yup. Labour are a right wing party now but are engaged in a sinister and underhanded marketing campaign to get people to think of them as left wing so *actual* left wing parties lose support. It is shameful.

        1. Donal

          Labour have accepted neoliberal economics as the only game in town and all their policies are based within this sphere
          They are thus the “acceptable opposition” and to be treated seriously by all the serious media outlets.
          Meanwhile other opinions don’t get as much exposure, and then are accused of being underhand when the people get behind them and support their policies (see Water Charges for example)

          1. Rob_G

            I think Labour are maybe taken more seriously because they have much more popular support than the other left wing parties (despite their recent fortunes).

            And they are more consistent – while you and I agree that a land value tax is a sensible way to go, the populist left has consistently opposed any and all property taxes.

          2. MoyestWithExcitement

            That’s because the hard right are trying to make developers rich again with their Free Market fantasy. The real left are just trying to oppose the insane act of imposing the same failed ideology that caused the crash of 2008.

          3. Rob_G

            How exactly are property taxes part of the ‘Free Market fantasy’? You are so ill-informed as to the tenets of both socialism and the free market that it is nigh on impossible to understand the point of your “arguments”.

        2. Jones

          Labour are right wing? You sir are an idiot if you think that any of Ireland’s mainstream parties are in any way right leaning. More centrist to othes, yes! Right wing? Please

      2. Rob_G

        Well, they do represent his competition, I suppose…

        And I can kind of understand his frustration. When AAA-PBP vote against a proposal that would see the creation of 900 additional housing units (which includes 300 social housing units), citing the reason that it should be 100% social housing, you would scratch your head and think to yourself are they really looking to alleviate the housing crisis, or merely grandstand and score political points while families live in hotels.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          And you’d conclude that they are trying to alleviate the housing crisis while Lab-FG-FF are implementing the right wing ideology that brought about the crash in 2008.

          1. A snowflake's chance in hell

            You sicken me. You are a nasty, pig ignorant, vile and despicable troll who gloats over the death of a man to score a political point. Horrifying.

    3. rotide

      Moyest gets more and more like The Donald every day. Screaming FAKE LEFT, using ridiculously irrelevant factoids to make an imaginary point and downright lying through his teeth.

  4. Tales of Old Dublin

    If Councils are underfunded then this is the fault of the Government.

    The abolition of rates may have been a bad thing for local government but it allowed many elderly people (who previously would have had to sell their homes due to inability to meet the rates) to remain in their homes and pass them on to their children as an inheritance.

    I think it’s a bit much to try to pass the responsibility for local government on to the public who have paid whopping amounts of stamp duty etc. for houses already.

    1. Cian

      Why does anyone ‘deserve’ an inheritance untaxed?

      There are huge differences between children’s lifestyle potential based on their parent’s wealth. This is perpetuated by inheritance. I don’t understand why capital gains tax isn’t applied to inheritances.

      Sure, my parents paid their taxes and scrimped and saved to pay the mortgage for their house, but the house they paid €38K for in1980 is now worth €600K – through property inflation – not their hard work. Why should I get that tax-free? Would it not be more fair that tax is paid on the uplift?
      inflation since then was 254% so that 37K in 1980 is equal to €135K today
      the balance of 465K is due solely to property inflation. So this should be taxed – either as deferred property tax if they can’t afford it as they are old or on inheritance.

      1. Increasing Displacement

        they paid 38k outright did they?
        no interest eh?
        i can see why you don’t need property inheritance, there’s obviously enough money in your family without it

        1. ivan

          sound – double the amount to €75000 or so if it makes you feel better to include the cost of borrowings; there’s still quite the profit based on property inflation here.

          1. Increasing Displacement

            All profit!

            37 years. No new anything. No painting. No replacing. No upgrades. No appliances to actually make it work. No modification. No upkeep required at all during that time. And certainly no worries or no love.

            It’s all just profit isn’t that right?
            Sure that’s why they bought it.
            For profit.

            Taxing the last vestige of transferable wealth the middle to working class have is a fantastic idea! Sure the tax is spent so well isn’t it?


          2. Cian

            As ivan said, we could double the initial amount to cover the interest, modifications and upkeep. there has been tax-relief on the interest for most of their mortgage.
            Appliances are a tiny % of 600K so ignore.

            But why should *I* reap the benefit of €400+K just because my parents bought a house in an area that had huge increase in property prices? If they had bought a house (mansion) down the country instead it wouldn’t be worth that sort of money now.
            I understand that farms should be treated differently (as long as the child keeps the farm – if they were to sell it off then the full rates should apply)

          3. Increasing Displacement

            Average yearly upkeep of a house per year = 1% value.
            Add interest (don’t even mention how high those were in the past), insurance, taxes, and everything else that increases.
            “we could double the initial amount to cover the interest, modifications and upkeep. ”
            Adding more floor area/conservatory could be in the 10s of 1000s.
            Adding new windows, 1000s.

            Your sums, as his are, are up your hole.

            “But why should *I* reap the benefit of €400+K just because my parents bought a house in an area that had huge increase in property prices?”
            – so you’ve nothing coming to you and you’re bitter, got ya.

            No one should benefit from the work of parents paying off but banks eh? Oh the tax will help everyone, my hoop. Tax in this country is squandered. Better in average joes pocket than in the governments.

          4. Rob_G

            At present, the bands are so high that, if the house is worth €600k and Cian has one sibling, they won’t pay any tax.

            Inheritance tax really only affects millionaires in this country*

            *in the case of children inheriting from parents.

          5. Tales of Old Dublin

            Cian, I don’t necessarily think that inheritance should be untaxed.

            However this should be dealt with directly by the capital gains tax system rather than domestic rates.

            I have yet to be convinced that restoring domestic rates will improve services by local authorities, who aren’t managing their resources very efficiently at present.

            I also feel that homeowners have paid enough over the past few years in stamp duty, property tax, property depreciation etc without hitting them with domestic rates as well.

            As regards renters, they may not suffer directly from domestic rates but they will suffer indirectly from the rent increases that result.

            The money will go into local authorities’ coffers and based on how they manage their resources at present (millions of Euros in Sligo for a dispute over a small public right of way) I am not confident that it will substantially benefit anyone other that employees of the local authority.

      2. Sean

        It’s called inheritance tax, it’s paid at exactly the same rate as CGT. The only difference is that there are tax free thresholds when inheriting parent to child or grandparent to child.
        The mad thing is not so much the concept but the rate. Every time someone dies, you pay 1/3 of the value of the assets to the state. That means you cannot hold a property for more than three generations without paying the current market value of the asset back to the state in full. Whatever about urban property, think about how this impacts upon family homes and farms in rural Ireland.

        1. Rob_G

          And the tax-free thresholds are enormous – something like €300k per child.

          So if you died and left a house worth €1m to to your three kids, you would only have to pay a few thousand.

    1. Increasing Displacement

      So instead of that sensible tax we went with local property tax?
      This country

    2. Cian

      A toilet tax would be straight-forward.
      There is a correlation between the size of the house and the number of loos! ;-)

  5. bob

    I like the tourist tax idea. A lot of other countries have it, but no doubt the lobby groups will stop this from ever coming in.

  6. Tony Groves

    Once you move past the blamethrowing and cheap shots, there’s (as there often is with Dermot) substance.
    Pity so many will get distracted by the unnecessary guff.

    1. edalicious

      +1 Dermo didn’t do himself any favours with the muck throwing but he does go on to make some good points. Textbook example of splintered left infighting though, you don’t need to agree but at least find SOME feckin’ middle ground.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        It’s not left infighting. He isn’t left. Also, it’s his own fault if nobody pays attention to his ideas here. I could have the one thing you really really want as your combined birthday and christmas presents for the next 10 years and I could offer to sell it to you for a knock down price. If I call you an idiot or imply you’re some sort of irrational child having a tantrum, you’ll probably tell me go fupp myself and keep your money in your pocket.

  7. Boj

    Does anyone think it’s a bit mad to pay a tax with money you’ve already been taxed on or that they can introduce a new tax (by force) rather than sort their own house out?

    1. Rob_G

      I think its a bit mad the PAYE workers are expected to foot the bill for everything, while people who own assets worth hundreds of thousands or euro object to paying anything.

      Once you pay your income tax, you will still pay VAT/excise taxes on the things you buy – we are expected to pay tax on money that has already been taxed all the time.

      1. Cian

        if you buy petrol or booze you pay duty, and then VAT on top of the duty. on money that you’re already paying tax on. Tax-on-a-tax-on-a-tax!

      2. Boj

        “we are expected to pay tax on money that has already been taxed all the time”

        That’s my point…why and how is this the best way to pay tax…it’s mad! This also begs the question, why can we not tax ALL social welfare (as they currently do with Maternity Benefit). That would at least remove/reduce the hatred lots of people have for it’s recipients.
        More complicated = less transparent.
        My other point was why were they so quick to throw this new tax at people in a recession rather than get each departments affairs in order. There is so much waste of our taxes going on it’s just not laughable anymore. Nothing has changed in gov, they just keep piling the receipts of their failures on our shoulders while blaming someone else.

        1. Rob_G

          Taxing social welfare would probably not yield very much revenue for the amount of admin it would require, as most of the people in receipt of social welfare would fall short of the threshold of paying income tax.

          1. Cian

            …except for Children’s Allowance. As all kids get this, a lot of family’s would be eligible for tax on it.
            .. and aren’t the state pensions eligible for tax?

  8. Co C.

    Josepha Madigan drives me mad. She says property tax is unfair because property prices in her constituency are high. Yet she opposes new developments as it would reduce property prices in her constituency.
    Cake and eating.

  9. Eoin

    I don’t give a toss about left wing or conservative or whatever. Stop with the politics for a bit. What’s going on in this country these days is about corruption and justice. Right and wrong not right and left. We have been robbed by the banks. We’ve taken on their odious debts. And the troubles with the banks and their horrific derivatives deals have yet to be dealt with. I read these articles and can’t help feel we are squabbling over loose change while the main fortune is being smuggled out the back.

    1. Dermot Lacey

      Francis I am genuinely sorry you feel that way. Happy to buy you a coffee/pint and we can discuss this.

  10. Mysterybeat

    Dermot Lacey has always been a wind-bag, but this piece is a work of genius for him.
    I had to laugh at his assertion that it was ‘de gubmint’s’ fault that local authorities were starved of funds, when his party colleagues were ministers for environment and public expenditure for the last few years bar one.
    Back to shaking your fist at the sky Dermot.

    1. Dermot Lacey

      I make the same point when we are in or out of Govt. I hold a strong view that reform of Local Government can transform Ireland.

  11. RuilleBuille

    This is Lacey of the Labour party who gave us Property Tax and Water Charges and who penalised the poorest and most vulnerable in society to pay off the debts of the wealthy. And he blames the opposition for this state of affairs! Lacey has said the water protesters are fascists because they opposed his water charges.

    Here is Lacey praising a criminal thug who hijacked a taxi at knifepoint –

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Great find. Establishment types who bleat on about principles when looking down their noses usually turn out to have no principles themselves.

      1. A snowflake's chance in hell

        What’s so great about it? are you guys seriously gloating about the death of a man in a tragic incident?

    2. Dermot Lacey

      I am replying here before I deal with the other substantial points. Thst post is as disgusting as it us untrue. The Garda report does not substantiate that view of the horrific incident. You really should be ashamed introducing that. I will deal with the genuine issues when I get to the end but Shame, Shame and shame again on you.

      1. A snowflake's chance in hell

        and then the other moron labelling it a ‘great find’ like some scavenging hyena coming across a corpse

  12. Frilly Keane

    to be fair, he’s given it a good go
    but one of the howlers and it was a deliberate one on his part

    They took Water away from the Local Authorities
    I would have no argument if Dublin City Council billed me for the water they provided to my gaff for years
    and I know I am not the only one

    Labour like FF and FG have deliberately strangled the local authorities for years.
    they wanted all the decisions and budget spends back in the hands of the Government Departments that they controlled

    For all the PoxTrot talk here and on the telly about Housing
    The solution is right there in front of us
    The Local Authorities
    Give them back the power and budgets to start building and acquiring properties again, either through their own Housing Depts or through their local Approved Housing Bodies

    So P!ss off with your cribbing about Josepha Madigan and all the rest of it
    its all nothing more than a bitta a handbags at an Intermediate Club Football match

    Which is the level you play at Mr Lacey

      1. Boj

        You’d be charged for that teardrop if they had their way.
        God knows where they’d stick the meter though?

  13. Daisy Chainsaw

    Some Liebore shill looking for more funds to dip his snout in. Think of all the millions that could be saved if we got rid of councillors who are only in it for the brown envelopes.

    Labour wouldn’t know “fair” if it slapped them in the face with a smoked salmon. They’re responsible for 3k children homeless, billions of euros of private gambling debt dumped on the public and for millions upon millions wasted in Irish Water.

  14. Declan

    Other then point 1 it all seems fairly reasonable. If we don’t support poorer counties we’re essentially guaranteeing the concentration of good civic services and growth to a few key urban areas

    1. Harry Molloy

      the lack of a spacial strategy for economic growth and activity, which includes your point, is tho biggest issue this country faces today in my opinion

  15. Biddy

    Bitter much Dermo? Bit of an identity crisis? Shush now, you’ll be a private citizen soon enough.

  16. Jim Bob Julius

    If only Labour had a chance to serve in government they could set all to rights…..

    If only…..

  17. Iwerzon

    “Ultra Left” and “Nationalist Left” – go fubb yourself. They are the Left and the Labour party is the light, moderate, diet left. Words like Ultra and Nationalist are Lacey’s attempt to stigmatise his opposition. ShobGite!

  18. realPolithicks

    “Trendy Left and Nationalist Left”

    I stopped reading when he mentioned the “Left” for the second time. There was a time when Labour was a party of the Left, now they are center right at best….wtf happened to them.

  19. The Bottler

    Prior to the introduction of salaries, councillors received allowances, claimable without proof of spending, and were refunded expenses incurred while attending conferences and such, after submitting claim forms.

    The salary known as the “representational payment” for this part-time job is currently €16,565 per annum (€318.56 per week) and subject to PAYE, PRSI and USC. Relatively modest, but look at the current “allowances”.

    Councillors get an annual unvouched, untaxed allowance of €7,188.45 per annum made up of: a travel allowance of €1,665.15; a subsistence allowance of €2,856.85; and a fixed allowance of €2,666.45.

    To get the full package of travel and subsistence allowances, councillors must turn up and sign in — but not necessarily stay even five minutes — for 80 percent of meetings. Only 50 percent attendance is needed to get the full “fixed allowance.”

    Do other workers receive such largesse? Of course they don’t.

  20. Dermot Lacey

    Thanks to those who engaged fairly. A property tax is a staple of most lefts across the world. Local Govt is a good way to deliver the sort of measures most left wing people want to deliver. I am happy to debate anytime in public with other people on left on these issues. It is a pity that some succumbed to abuse rather than engaging on issue.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “It is a pity that some succumbed to abuse.”

      Like you did; “All across the world, that is, except for the Trendy Left and Nationalist Left in Ireland. Here they simply oppose, protest, march, campaign and instill fear and selfish individualism.”

      How can you write that and then whine about “abuse”? Seriously. Did you think people would forget what you wrote? On the same page that you wrote it on?

  21. Dermot Lacey

    I made a political charge I did not succumb to personalised abuse. I stand over my political charge

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