Deputy Robert Dowds (Lab): “Property taxes are one of the fairest ways of raising money for local services”

TWO local politicians are engaged in a war of words over the upcoming property tax.
Last week, The Gazette reported that Labour TD Robert Dowds had welcomed changes to the payment of the tax for council homes.
However, Sinn Fein representative Eoin O Broin hit back, saying that no system that leads to council tenants paying for properties owned by the council was fair.
He said: “If council tenants are made to foot the bill, they will be paying a tax for a property they don’t own.
“If the council covers the cost, local services will suffer, and hundreds of thousands of euro will be diverted from the council budget to the Revenue [Commissioners].
“Deputy Dowds’ suggestion that this is good news is clearly absurd,” said O Broin.
“Deputy Dowds also welcomed the deferral scheme for families on low incomes. However, what he did not make clear is that there is an annual 4% penalty charge for those who defer.
“This means that if you are unable to pay the property tax because of low income, the government will charge you an additional interest payment of 4% for every year you defer.
“In their 2011 General Election manifesto, Labour promised not to introduce a property tax before 2014,” he said.
In response, Deputy Dowds hit back, saying that any Sinn Fein criticism of the tax could not be taken seriously, given government policy in Northern Ireland.
He said: “It’s unbelievable that Eoin O Broin would come out with this, considering Sinn Fein imposes property taxes of more than £1,000 for ordinary homes in the North – four or five times more what people in our area will be paying.
“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to bring in a new tax, but property taxes are one of the fairest ways of raising money for local services, because rich people in the most expensive houses – like those in Killiney – pay the most amount of tax,” said Deputy Dowds.