As homeowners throughout South Tipperary receive notification of their Property Tax bill this week, plans are being made to picket the offices of the county’s government party TDs and senators in protest at the controversial levy.
The Revenue Commissioners said every property owner in South Tipperary should receive notification of their Property Tax levy by the end of next week. The Revenue began sending out notices to the owners of South Tipperary’s 38,184 stock of houses and flats on March 11.
The local campaign of protests against the tax is being launched by left wing Independent TD Seamus Healy this week.
He is organising nine public meetings throughout Co. Tipperary over the next two weeks to drum up public support and agitation for the cause.
Deputy Healy, who leads the Workers & Unemployment Action Group, has invited people opposed to the imposition of the Property Tax to take part in a protest picket he is organising outside the constituency offices of Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes and Senator Landy at 3pm on Saturday, April 6.
Pickets will also be staged outside the constituency offices of North Tipperary’s government party Oireachtas members on a later date yet to be finalised.
Deputy Healy described the Property Tax, as a “grossly unfair and injust” tax targeting low and middle income people and his campaign of opposition to the levy aims to put pressure on the Government parties to scrap it.
When asked if he was advocating that people refuse pay the tax, he pointed out that the Revenue Commissioners have draconian powers to collect the tax from property owners’ salaries and social welfare payments, so whether they liked it or not it will paid.
Deputy Healy pointed out that he has been contacted by a lot of residents on the north side of Clonmel unhappy with the Revenue Commissioners’s high valuations on their properties.
Residents in privately owned houses in Elm Park received valuations in the E150,000 to E200,000 category, which carries a E315 yearly levy or E157 for half the year while residents of homes in Cooleens Close and Clarkes Villas received valuations in the E100,000 to E150,000 bracket.
There was no basis for these “ridiculous” valuations, said Deputy Healy. Anyone living on a local authority estate like these should be in Band 1 with a valuation up to E100,000, which carries a levy of E45 for six months and E90 for a year.
He urged home owners to change the valuation on their property if they believed it was wrong and not simply accept the Revenue Commissioners’s valuation.
Meanwhile, another Independent South Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath condemned the Fine Gael/Labour government in the Dail last week for excluding the residents of many ghost housing estates in South Tipperary from the Unfinished Houses Property Tax waiver scheme.
Deputy McGrath, who is also opposed to the tax, said seven out of eight people living in unfinished housing estates, who were exempt from the Household Charge last year are now being required to pay the Property Tax.
“After all of the Government’s bluster, reports and examinations, eight times fewer people will be exempt from the property tax this year.
“I can only speak for South Tipperary, where none of the unfinished estates have been completed.We did not get enough money from the Government to even put up hoardings around them to make them safe. This is a total farce,” said Deputy McGrath during Leaders Question Time in the Dail.
Deputy McGrath said he had been contacted by residents living in the unfinished estates of Ashfield Manor and Lady’s Abbey, Ardfinnan and Hazel Close, Greenhill, Carrick-on-Suir and Longfield in Boherlahan, who had not qualified for the scheme.
The residents of Longfield in Boherlahan where there are about 30 vacant houses feel particularly aggrieved as the Department of Environment has admitted it mistakenly excluded them from the waiver scheme but has told them the decision won’t be overturned. Deputy McGrath highlighted their case in the Dail and The Nationalist few weeks ago.
Sean Kennedy, a resident of one of the eight occupied houses in the estate, said the Department of Environment’s refusal to grant them the waiver was ridiculous.
He said he is refusing to pay the Property Tax and his neighbours, who own their homes feel the same way.
Mr Kennedy said their homes were beautifully built but they haven’t any public lighting and when he looks out the window he is looking at a building site compound, a skip and big boulder stones.
Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said he will be writing to the Co. Council to check out how it devised the list of unfinished estates it recommended to the Department to qualify for the Property Tax waiver. “I am concerned at why they didn’t include more estates,” he said.
He dismissed Deputy Healy’s opposition campaign to the tax and his plans to picket his and other government Oireachtas members constituency offices as “gimmick politics” and hoped his constituents wouldn’t be stopped for visiting his clinics on April 6.
“We need money for our hospitals and roads. Will Deputy Healy tell me where he will get that money? If he can come up with an alternative I can debate it with him any time,” said Deputy Hayes.
The anti-Property Tax public meetings being organised by Deputy Healy take place in Cahir House Hotel next Tuesday; The Carraig Hotel next Wednesday, Hearn’s Hotel, Clonmel on Thursday, April 4, Tipperary Community Services Centre, Tipperary on Friday, April 5, Kearney’s Castle Hotel in Cashel on Monday, April 8 and St Mary’s Hall, Killenaule on Friday, April 12. All meetings begin at 8pm.
He is also organising public meetings in Thurles, Roscrea and Nenagh.