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Michael Healy-Rae dismisses new tax proposals, says people already ‘taxed to death’

A new report has recommended a number of new taxes to replace declining revenues from fossil fuels

TD Michael Healy-Rae. Photo: Tom Burke

Sunday World

Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae has dismissed suggestions for new road taxes, saying people are already "taxed to death".

The Independent deputy was reacting to a new report that has recommended a number of new taxes to replace declining revenues from fossil fuels.

"At present, people are taxed to death - between carbon taxes and all of the additional charges and costs that are put on people,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“People right now today - running their car, paying the electricity in their house and trying to keep heat in their homes for this winter - is extremely difficult.”

The Commission on Taxation and Welfare has said "road usage charges" should be imposed on distance, location and time spent on the road.

It also supports the introduction of congestion charging in certain areas and described the Local Property Tax (LPT) as a "well-functioning tax" that should be "increased materially".

And it said a Site Value Tax (SVT) should be applied to all land that is not subject to the LPT.

"Given Ireland's demographic profile, level of public debt, and a number of other fiscal risks, it is inevitable that the total amount of taxation required to fund public services will increase in the years ahead", the report said.

But Deputy Healy-Rae argued that any extra road charge will be passed to the consumer.

"We are an island nation, everything has to be delivered by road - things do not fall out of the sky to fill our shops.

"If an additional charge is put on those people, where will that charge eventually go but on the consumer.

"So what it means is a person picking up their box of Cornflakes inside the shop will pay a hell of a lot more for it than they're already paying.

"When penalty points were introduced, we were told 'This is what was being proposed',” he added.

"And since then it has completely changed: in other words, two points went to three, one went to two - everything went up.

"The fines went up and everything went up - they would do exactly the same with the distance location charges.

"If they came in in one guise, they would be completely changed.

"And all it would mean is that the poor person on the road, that has to use the road a lot, will finish up paying a lot more.”

He added: "At present, people are taxed to death - between carbon taxes and all of the additional charges and costs that are put on people.

"People right now today - running their car, paying the electricity in their house and trying to keep heat in their homes for this winter - is extremely difficult".

But John Fitzgerald, an adjunct professor in economics at Trinity College Dublin, said the short-fall has to be made up somewhere.

"There are three elements: one there's the carbon we emit... a second is you've got to pay for the roads.

"A distance charge - if you drive a long distance on a road - cars don't do that much damage, lorries do much more damage.

"But the third element is congestion: the OECD originally suggested everything would be on the kilometres you [travel].

"But in Ireland, with a large rural population, that's probably not a great idea.

"People going from Belmullet to Castlebar to do their shopping, there's no congestion on the roads, they're not doing a huge amount of damage to the road - although it's got to be paid for - and if they're an electric car they're not emitting carbon.

"Whereas in Dublin or Cork, where you have major congestion, by you driving the car you're cluttering up the city for other people".


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