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Stamping it out

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The electioneering is in full swing these days and party politics is long forgotten as a horse that won the 1992 Grand National. Stamp duty appears to be the biggest item on the agendas of most parties with the notable exception of Fianna Fail whose finance minister has knocked the idea several times at this stage. Yesterday Fine Gael and Labour announced their plans to abolish stamp duty on houses but as always, only for certain situations. Seemingly they are proposing no stamp duty for first time buyers up to 450,000 and for the rest of the country there will be no stamp duty up to 100,000 (great news for anyone moving into a garden shed in D15 but not in D4), 5% on the next 350,000 and 9% on the remainder. I think that I heard the Green Party proposing something similar recently, no stamp duty for first time buyers nor for owners who are down-sizing. While I applaud the idea that parties are actually considering a reform of this archaic tax on housing, the big problem with all parties in this country still prevails.

The bottom of the rung continue to get handouts such as free housing and other benefits (I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be some help but I’m aware of plenty of situations when it is certainly not justified). The top of the rung continue to enjoy tax breaks and high interest investments purely because they have the free cash to do so. So the richer get richer and the poor get free living but nothing else. Meanwhile the rest of us middle class proles are stuck in a situation we cannot get out of because the entire modus operandi of the country is set up to tax us into the ground. The same is true of this stamp duty chatter. While everyone is proposing that it should be abolished for first time buyers (albeit with a ceiling price) nobody is thinking of all the small apartment owners out there that couldn’t afford a house and now want to start a family but have no room. Is it fair that they should be further punished for needing a house when there is a percentage of single mothers out there milking the system to get free housing with the live-in boyfriend who isn’t supposed to be there? Nobody ever considers the middle-ground of society. Government has to be seen to be addressing the needs of the poor and naturally it will always address the desires of the rich but the majority of the voting public are never regarded. Sure there are reductions in tax brackets but a 2% decrease in the lower tax bracket is hardly life changing. Apparently the average industrial wage is 30,000 – I think that this figure is exaggerated. A 2% reduction in the lower tax bracket for this means an extra EUR 10.90 in your pocket each week – hardly going to help you upgrade your house. At any rate that extra couple of quid in your pocket will probably be eaten by the next rise in gas and electricity prices. So, there you go, you’re no better off again.

This country’s politicians need to start thinking about what affects the daily lives of the majority of the country. It has to stop focussing on sweetners for the super-rich and media publicity for caring for the poor. It needs to embrace the rest of the country, inspire it to be the best that it can. I’m not saying that the standard of possessions in Ireland is below par. It certainly isn’t, people have far more these days. However, the standard of living is not the same thing, the vast majority of people in this country feel as though they will never break their mould and have an easy retirement. The reasons are simple: in order to afford a house many people are working more than one job, tax cuts have little to no effect on the average take home wage, incentive schemes and tax relief only applies to the super rich, benefits are only given to the poor. If you are not at either end of the spectrum you’ll be taxed out of existence for working more than one job, there will be no government support for you to live and you’ll never acquire enough cash to become an investor within Ireland. It’s a sad reality and we’re too small a country to be using the excuse that we can’t do anything about it. It’s time for a change – think about what really affects you, ask yourself what politicians have ever actually addressed those needs. source: Irish Times

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