THE Green Party has called for the reinstatement of an 80% ‘windfall tax’ on lands rezoned for housing purposes, saying that the tax on land speculation could help to fund local authorities, as well as helping to fund affordable housing projects.
“Successive Governments have failed to tackle the value extraction that occurs when lands are rezoned for housing,” said Green Party councillor in Cork city, Colette Finn.
Ms Finn, who is a researcher in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork, said: “The price of land should not be dictated by a change in its zoning. Ordinary, hard-working people are being priced out of affording their own homes — either to rent or buy — because of this situation.
“Cork is set to be the fastest-growing city in the Republic. We will end up with even more unaffordable housing if we don’t act now,” said Ms Finn.
The call for the reinstatement of the 80% windfall tax comes as a new report prepared by Dublin City Council suggests that 325 hectares of industrial lands in Dublin’s inner suburbs may be rezoned to allow for housing.
The prior tax rate, which was altered in the 2015 budget, would result in the state receiving €1.5 billion.
Green Party MEP for Dublin Ciarán Cuffe said: “It would be madness if the State were to miss out on €1.5bn in rezoning levies due to a flawed Fine Gael decision. The 80% rate helped to curb speculation by imposing a tax on profits from land rezoning.”
Green Party Finance spokesperson, and councillor for Cabra-Glasnevin in Dublin, Neasa Hourigan, added that “the huge profits made by property developers during the boom in the 2000s due to the rezoning of land by local authorities led to a highly politicised process and poor regional planning decisions. A windfall tax still allows property owners to realise a significant profit while ensuring the price of land for housing remains reasonable.”
Ms Finn, who was recently selected as the Green Party candidate to contest the next general election for Cork North West, further emphasised the benefits of such a rate for Cork: “As Cork is set to be the fastest-growing city in the Republic, the need for land to be rezoned may increase, and thus such a rate would kick in.
“Myself and my colleagues in Cork City Council are constantly told that there isn’t money in the budget to make improvements to benefit everyone in the city. An 80% windfall tax would mean, quite simply, that the rich in our society will be paying back into society to help everyone. It just makes sense.
“In a housing crisis, in a climate crisis, we’re not in a position to just leave €1.5bn on the table.”
The 80% windfall rate was removed by the Fine Gael government in the budget of 2015, and organisations like Social Justice Ireland have since called for its reintroduction.
Ms Finn has studied economics to doctoral level after a 30-year career in the Hospital Laboratory Service.