Friday 22 September 2017

Campaign by Revenue to clear up confusion

Michael Brennan and Ralph Riegel

THE Revenue Commissioners will mount a publicity drive outlining how to pay the property tax after Christmas – after coming under political pressure on "confusing" letters sent to homeowners.

But there will be no U-turn on the decision to force people to pay the property tax for next year before Christmas if they are using credit or debit cards.

The confusion about when and how to pay the tax for next year has resulted in 5,000 people calling the property tax helpline per day.

This led to government backbenchers criticising the Revenue for sending out letters which were not easy for people to understand.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan held a meeting with Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily last night to urgently address the confusion.

Ms Feehily said that Revenue will be placing newspaper adverts and ensuring that Revenue officials appear on radio and TV to clarify the message on payment of the controversial tax.

Extra staff will be deployed until the property tax helpline after criticism that callers were waiting for long periods before getting an answer.

Confusion erupted after almost one million householders were sent letters about paying the full year of property tax for 2014 by different methods such as direct debit, cheque or salary deductions.

Some homeowners felt they had to pay immediately, even though there are options available to defer payment until March next year.

But despite the Revenue pledge to improve its communications, there will be no change to the deadlines already outlined. Homeowners will still have to declare their payment method within the next two days by post (by November 7) or by November 27 online at the latest.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore had upped the ante by calling on the Revenue to look again at the pre-Christmas deadline for paying the property tax via credit card or debit card. He is set to raise the issue at Cabinet today.

But while there will be no change to the deadline, Mr Noonan said that he was confident any outstanding issues would be clarified.

"The Revenue gave so many choices to people that people found it difficult to cope with the different choices. But if there is any further clarification necessary, I'm sure Ms Feehily will organise that during the week," he said.

Irish Independent

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