Thousands still waiting for refund on property tax
THOUSANDS of homeowners who are due a refund of their property tax after a Revenue blunder have yet to receive a cent.
These people bought homes last year and paid the controversial new tax, but they are due to be refunded up to €4m in total.
As many as 6,000 homeowners are thought to be affected. The tax on a €240,000 house was around €200 for last year and €400 for this year.
Sloppy wording in the law that gave effect to the property tax means that people who bought a home last year were due a three-year exemption.
Revenue officials knew about the blunder since last summer, but the issue only came to attention when it was revealed in the Irish Independent last November. By that time, thousands of people had paid the property tax, even though they were not liable for it.
Now, Revenue has revealed that it has yet to pay out the refunds – over six months after the mistake was discovered.
Officials from the tax office are poring over stamp duty returns to see who is due a refund, Finance Minister Michael Noonan told Fianna Fail's Michael McGrath in a Dail reply.
He added: "There is a significant amount of work involved in identifying individuals who bought in 2013 and who are entitled to the exemption.
"When this is completed, Revenue will write to these individuals and will provide advice on what action should be taken where the individual confirms that s/he qualifies for the exemption and wishes to claim it, so that s/he may receive a refund of LPT (local property tax) paid for 2013 or 2014."
A Revenue spokeswoman said it was making good progress identifying people eligible for a refund and would write to them. She added that a "small number of refunds have been made on foot of contact from property owner" but conceded that the majority of people had yet to get a refund.
Brendan Burgess, founder of Askaboutmoney.com, who discovered the loophole, criticised Revenue's handling of the issue. He said: "Many people who are exempt have paid the tax unnecessarily and now there will have to be a big refunds exercise.
"This could have been avoided if they had gone public as soon as they discovered it."