MORE than 1.6 million homeowners will be forced to pay a €100 household charge from next January -- and it is inevitably going to rise in future Budgets.
The new charge will be replaced with a property tax based on the value of the home, the Government said last night, with details to be announced in the middle of next year.
Details of the controversial annual household charge were unveiled yesterday which will oblige every homeowner in the State to pay a €100 fee to help fund local authorities.
Some €160m will be generated in a year, but homeowners can expect a steep rise over the coming years when the charge is replaced with a property tax.
People who rent their homes will not pay the charge, as the liability rests with the owner. The charge must be paid by the end of next March, and a late penalty of €10 will apply if paid within six months of the due date, €20 between six and 12 months and €30 if the payment is 12 months late.
The payments can be made by post or through a dedicated website, to be operated by the Local Government Management Agency. Payments can also be made by instalment through direct debit four times a year.
Exemptions will apply to: unsold properties; social, voluntary or charitable housing; homes owned by the Government or HSE; or where a person is forced to leave their home due to illness, for example where an elderly person moves into a nursing home.
Exemptions will also apply to people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, and for those living in certain unfinished housing developments. The names of the housing developments will be announced early in the new year.
But hundreds of families forced to leave their homes in the Priory Hall apartment complex in Dublin because of fire safety concerns will have to pay the charge.
The Department of the Environment said yesterday that "no special provision" was being made to waive the annual tax for the 240 residents, even though they cannot live in their homes.
Residents spokesman Graham Usher said that residents would lobby the Government to introduce a waiver.
"I'm not too sure how you could define Priory Hall as anything but a ghost estate," he said. "It's at the end of a long list of costs involved with Priory Hall. For now, we're stuck paying a mortgage for somewhere that we're not able to live. I wouldn't be keen to be paying anything for a property that I can't live in."
Environment Minister Phil Hogan said work on developing a valuation-based property tax will begin early in 2012 to replace the charge.
"A full property tax, requiring a property valuation system, will take time to implement, so the Government is introducing the interim household charge to apply to the majority of owners of residential property in the State," he said. "I will establish an inter-Departmental expert group to advise me, by mid-2012."
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce said it was disappointed that the money generated would be dispersed by the Department of Finance, and not retained by the local authority in which they were raised.