That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 to make provision whereby the current level of local property tax shall not be increased and the valuation date in relation to a relevant residential property shall not be changed unless otherwise determined by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
This Bill is necessary and should be supported to avoid an expected property tax time bomb. Under existing legislation, homeowners will be required to revalue their properties in May 2016. By then, as many Members know, some house prices in Dublin may have risen by up to 50%. This Bill would remove that strict evaluation date. At the time it was introduced Fianna Fáil stated it was extremely unfair and anti-urban. In the meantime, what many predicted has happened, namely, there has been a rise in property prices. The increase in an individual property band is up to €90. If this were applied to a 50% increase in the price of a house, it would mean an increase of €360 on some properties in Dublin and other larger cities.
In response, the Government will claim that it did not expect the coffers to swell by anything near these figures in three years, despite the fact that much of what it had expected to derive from the water tax will not now materialise owing to the backlash against it. Will it consider the merits of this Bill and respond to its contents? Will it respond, sooner if necessary or if possible, to my contention that the Department's expected revenue accruing to the State from this source will be far in excess of what was initially predicted? With the best of intentions and goodwill, it was certainly not expected by the Government that it would see such increases in property prices. The reasons behind this are for discussion on another day in another debate. Despite the efforts of the Government with its homelessness strategy, spending €3 billion on housing provision and many other schemes which it announced with great fanfare, when one drills down into them, the meat on the bone is far from the reality painted at the time of their launch.
The Government should take account of what is contained in this short and concise Bill to arrest the concerns people have even at this stage. Having survived the onslaught of the water charges debacle and the funds expected to be expended by households in that regard, many in urban centres, especially Dublin, face increases of up to €360 next year as a result of the property bands in the current legislation. Before responding publicly, will the Government consider the Bill’s contents, respond to it accordingly and agree with them?