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Ireland: Income tax hikes to pay for household levy shortfall

26 July 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: SAIT TechnicalI
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Irish Examiner

Workers will have to pay more tax next year if 600,000 homeowners persist with their refusal to pay the household charge, Environment Minister Phil Hogan has warned.

Mr Hogan also said anti-household charge protesters refusing to pay the levy would be directly responsible for cuts to their own local authority services.

The minister was heckled by protesters yesterday as he arrived at the MacGill summer school and was forced to enter the conference venue by the back door.

He said he was surprised by the placard holders who pushed through a Garda line shouting they would not pay the €100 charge.

"The people that haven’t paid will be responsible for cuts in essential services and local government if they don’t pay between now and the end of the year.

"The alternative to that is to put more taxation on work and working people, including some people who have already paid the charge and do not want to pay any more tax," he told reporters afterwards inside the hotel.

Revenue have been given the job of collecting the property tax, which will take over from the household charge next year. Mr Hogan said the amount to be charged to households remained unknown but that the finance minister would be a "key" decider on what the property tax would be.

As of last weekend, there were 992,924 properties registered for the household charge. More than 600,000 more households have yet to pay up and this has left the Government with at least a €60m shortfall in the levy’s collection.

Local authorities last week were informed that millions of euro were being cut from their budgets, partially because of the low amounts of payments of the household charge in some areas.

Some €4.5m was cut from Dublin City, and €1.7m from Cork City.

Mr Hogan added: "It’s appropriate that people have a peaceful protest but at the end of the day, local government services have to be paid for.

"It’s the law of the land and I’d ask people that are protesting and haven’t paid to pay, otherwise services will be put under threat in local authorities like Donegal."

Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, said that services in local authorities would be cut if homeowners did not pay the charge.

Commenting while also attending the conference, he explained: "If people don’t pay their household tax, that creates a hole in the budget of local authorities."

Mr Hogan also revealed details yesterday of his plans to overhaul local government. He said that he would likely cut the numbers of councillors as well as the number of councils.

He also said that the expenses regime for councillors would be made more transparent.

But the launch of his Putting People First plan has been postponed until the autumn.

"It’s extremely likely that I will be cutting the number of councillors and the number of authorities.

"I’m certainly going to strengthen the role of the local authority audit committees."

Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins told the audience that expenses and payments handed to councillors for attending conferences should be taken away. Any foreign travel should be entirely self-financed by elected members, he argued.

He also called for mayors to be directly elected in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and elsewhere



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