Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach

Finance Bill 2021: Committee Stage

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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It is an interesting admission by the Minister that if we imposed this tax on people who own multiple properties, they might pass it on to tenants. He is effectively admitting that his rent control measures will be completely ineffective. I happen to agree with him. The Government is trumpeting that it will limit rent increases to 2% or the rate of inflation, depending on which is lower. If the Minister’s proposals in that regard were to be effective, which I do not believe they will be, that would not be an issue. In the world that we would want to construct around the rental sector, we would introduce rental controls where that could not happen. Therefore, landlords would not be able to pass on the cost. We would reset rents at affordable levels through a rent authority that would set rents at an affordable level. That particular criticism does not concern us. We think the Minister can and should control rents given the extortionate cost of rents and the contribution they are making to the current housing crisis.

I thank the Minister for giving the full costing in respect of our proposal. It demonstrates that implementing our proposal could raise approximately €150 million more than the yield from current local property tax.

People need to know that we could remove the property tax on the family home and replace it with a tax on those who own multiple properties and by so doing we could generate more revenue and have a fairer situation as a result. That is preferable.

People should know about the number of people who own multiple properties. Some 125,000 people in this country have two properties, 50,000 people have three to ten properties, and 3,000 people have more than ten properties. That is real wealth. The person who owns a second property is not necessarily stunningly wealthy but it is wealth beyond the principal private residence. One would not end up paying a lot more under our proposal because one would not be paying tax on the principal residence. One would pay €1,000 in tax on that second property but that is not punitive. It is fairer. If one had between three and ten properties one would pay €1,500 on each property and if one had more than ten properties one would pay €2,500 on each property. If one has more than ten properties one is seriously property rich and generating a lot of revenue from that property. It is a modest proposal but it would raise more than the Minister is able to raise with a tax that I and many others believe is unfair. That is the logic but I know the Minister does not agree.