Push to cut Clare property tax as inflation bites

LAST year County Clare councilors voted to keep local property tax at the maximum that can legally be charged, but pressure for a reduction is likely to be high in 2023 as the worst inflation in decades erodes the people’s standard of living.

Last year, Shannon’s independent adviser, Gerry Flynn, was one of only two members who were against keeping the amount paid by Clare households at 15% above the standard rate, and at the meeting of this week from the local authority, he called for a reduction in 2023.

Ahead of last week’s meeting, he put a motion on the agenda in which he said: ‘I call on Clare County Council councilors to cut local property tax by 15% when they will make a decision on the new rate.

“Clare landlords are currently paying 15 per cent more than the government’s recommended standard rate following a decision by local councilors.

“This unfair tax on Clare homeowners places a huge burden on beleaguered families who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads during this very difficult time and I call on Clare’s elected officials to support these people and to reduce the tax on their homes,” the motion reads.

He said it takes “a lot of courage” to take out a mortgage and people who do should be supported.

The independent adviser also said many of the people paying the tax are retired and on fixed incomes.

Councilor Flynn noted the Council has the option to go 15% below the standard rate, so setting 15% above means households in Clare are paying a lot more than might be the case.

He said it could be cut back to the standard rate in 2023, before dropping 15% below for 2024.

Supporting the sentiment, Sinn Féin’s Donna McGettigan said the impact of the tax is too often downplayed.

“It sometimes amounts to a few euros a week, but a few euros a week is a lot for some families, a lot.”

Independent Ann Norton said it was time for councilors “to open our eyes, see what’s coming and support the people we represent”.

However, a number of councilors expressed concern about the motion, saying they could not make a property tax decision at such an early stage without considering the impact on the county and its budget. There were also concerns that if the motion passed, it would be binding for 2023.

Council CEO Pat Dowling said the measure would reduce its revenue by around €1.5m and he said part of the budget should not be agreed in isolation from the rest of the process.

In the end, Councilor Flynn agreed to change the motion, to one urging councilors to consider a reduction in the TPL when a decision must be made on a new rate, and this passed comfortably.

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