Ireland is faced with reacting to a rapidly collapsing world economy whilst at the same time addressing a looming energy crisis that will dwarf the current economic crisis in both consequences and complexity, it was claimed yesterday. In a meeting with the Commission on Taxation representatives from the Environmental Pillar argued for the introduction of Land Value Taxation and other measures to address the two crises facing Ireland.
“In general what is needed is a shift from taxes on income and profits to tax on consumption of natural resources,” said Pat Finnegan, an Environmental Pillar representative. “Where taxes are applied they must be progressive and just, and any new taxation should not be based on cyclical sectors of the economy that leave the exchequer vulnerable to changing circumstances. Land Value taxation is better taxation because it is both fair and dependable,” he added.
In a constructive meeting with the Commission the Pillar representatives argued that transaction taxes such as stamp duties, VAT and sales taxes distort proper market functioning and should be phased out and replaced with annual land taxes. Land Value Taxation could immediately raise desperately needed revenue for local authorities to provide essential services for for local communities. It would also reduce pressure on elected representatives to over-zone or rezone prematurely for development.
Land would be given a value calculated according to its type, zoning, location, and connectivity. As an example, the Land Value Tax (LVT) on a Dublin 4 detached house would be high and that applied to a rural dwelling with no services would be low. Owner-occupants of a multi-story residence in a town or city would divide the LVT between them, encouraging high residential densities without penalising rural dwellers.
Other issues such as ‘Cap and Share’ of carbon emissions and the responsible use of natural resources were also discussed and will be considered by the report writers.
It was the first opportunity for the Environmental Pillar to outline its views on sustainable economics to the Commission. “The concept of an unrestricted growth economy is what has got us into this crisis, and only by moving to a sustainable approach can we have hope for the future. You cannot fix a problem using the very tools that caused the problem in the first place” said Michael Ewlng, an Environmental Pillar representative.
The Environmental Pillar representatives are Oisín Coghlan (Friends of the Earth), Karin Dubsky (Coastwatch). Siobhán Egan (BirdWatch Ireland), Charles Stanley-Smith (An Taisce). Michael Ewing coordinates the Pillar’s activities.