As the deadline passed midnight Sunday for payment of a new government fee, only 49 percent of households had signed up to pay amid frustration with the government's austerity agenda.
A majority of Irish households have refused to pay a new government fee in a tax revolt led, unusually, by socialists.
The Irish government levied the new tax in an attempt to shore up the country's finances that were devastated by economic collapse and a series of bank bailouts. But as the deadline passed midnight Sunday, only 49 percent of households had signed up to pay.
With no rioting and few protests, Ireland had been until now the quietest of the ravaged economies on the fringes of the European Union. However, the tax revolt reveals significant frustration here to budgetary reforms and foreshadows trouble ahead for the government's efforts to meet EU bailout demands.
Ruth Coppinger, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes and Socialist Party councilwoman for Dublin, says the refusal to pay the property tax — and forthcoming water metering — is a rejection of austerity policies ushered in by the government at the behest of the EU, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund.
"The mood in society has changed. The general feeling is that we didn't create this mess and we're being asked to pay for it," she says.
All Irish households are being charged a flat fee of €100 ($133) with the promise that the "household charge" will be replaced by a tax based on property value in 2013.