Local politicians want Finance Minister Michael Noonan to modify Ireland’s commericial rates legislation to appease cash-strapped businesses.
A meeting of Longford County Council last week heard of the renewed fears many elected members still harbour over how current laws are enforced.
To negate those misgivings, councillors want the matter addressed by Department of Finance chiefs as a matter of urgency.
Cllr Seamus Butler said councils, like Longford, were not in a position to bring about any lasting change to the current system however.
This, he stressed, was because governments and not local authorities retained control of their day to day application.
“Unfortunately, we (Council) can’t do anything about it, but I believe if a government can develop an entirely new tax, ie the Local Property Tax, from scratch why can’t it do the same for commercial premises?”
Fine Gael’s Cllr Colm Murray added his voice to those urgings and bemoaned the failure of successive governments to tackle the problem head on.
Cllr Gerry Warnock, meanwhile, labelled Ireland’s existing commercial rates legislation as nothing more than an “archaic tax” in desperate need of reform.
But while there was agreement across the chamber in terms of issuing a written letter to the Finance Minister over the problem, there was division amongst some in terms of its execution.
Perhaps somewhat unusually that difference of opinion involved Fine Gael Councillors, John Duffy and John Browne.
The latter argued any changes should be based on the value of a commercial property, a suggestion Cllr Duffy found difficult to acknowledge.
“I have to disagree,” he interjected.
“I think it should be based on income and profit.
“It has to be based on income.”
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