Friday, 16 July 2021
Finance (Local Property Tax) (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee and Remaining Stages
Paul Gavan (Sinn Fein)
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 9, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following: “(d) a liable person forms a view that the property has been damaged as a result of the use of defective concrete blocks.”.
The Minister is very welcome. Section 18 of the Bill purports to provide an exemption for those homeowners whose houses have been affected by mica or pyrite, but does it? It inserts into the Bill a new section 10D which states that residential property damaged as a result of the use of defective concrete blocks in its construction will be exempt from local property tax but only if it meets certain conditions. Those conditions are, as set out in section 18, if the property has been or is being remediated or, under subsection 10D(1)(a), if "a confirmation of eligibility in relation to the property has been issued". What does "confirmation of eligibility" mean?
Under subsection 10D(6), confirmation of eligibility has the meaning given to it by the regulations that gave effect to the current and flawed redress scheme, whereby the applicant can have eligibility confirmed only once he or she has made an application to the local authority that includes the engineer's report confirming damage caused by mica or pyrite. To spell that out to the Minister, Senators and those whose homes have been damaged by mica or pyrite, under this legislation homeowners will be required to have an engineer's report, which costs in excess of €6,000, in order to qualify for this exemption to the local property tax. To put it another way, if homeowners whose houses are crumbling around them as a result of the mica scandal are unable to fork out €6,000 from their own pockets for an engineer's report, they will be charged local property tax by the Minister on homes that are not safe, homes that have lost their value, homes that are or will not be liveable in unless a 100% redress scheme is delivered. Can the Minister not see that this exemption is unworkable? Can he not see that requiring an engineer's report to qualify for an LPT exemption, when the engineer's report costs several times the annual LPT charge, simply does not make sense? Can the Minister not see that this Bill, as it is written, will charge these homeowners local property tax as a result of his Government's flawed and broken redress scheme?
Our amendments are sensible. They are what is necessary to ensure that homeowners affected by mica are not charged local property tax. I urge the Minister to accept these amendments in the interests of these homeowners. Amendments Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, will allow homeowners whose houses have been damaged or destroyed by mica or pyrite to apply for an exemption from local property tax on a self-assessed basis, with Revenue able to take a look-back exercise to assess eligibility for exemption once a new 100% redress scheme is in place.