HOUSEHOLDERS are already planning to deliberately undervalue their houses to cut down on their property tax bills, a government TD has claimed.
There are fines of up to €3,000 in property tax legislation for those who knowingly make a false declaration.
But FG Dublin North TD Alan Farrell said he had learnt that some householders in his constituency were discussing a 'price-fixing' system – so that all the people in their street or estate would provide the same deliberately low value to the Revenue.
"I think there would be nothing worse in the present economic environment if we had a two-tier system where some people were fiddling the system, while others are doing the right thing," he said.
The property tax will be charged at 0.18pc of the current market value of a house, with householders paying six months of the tax this year from July 1.
Mr Farrell, who worked as an auctioneer before he was elected to the Dail, urged the Revenue to publish the guidelines for house owners to calculate the value of their houses as soon as possible. He said otherwise it could lead to residents being pressurised by their neighbours.
"I find this to be extremely worrying. No individual should be put in a position where they feel obliged to undervalue their property, or mislead the Revenue Commissioners," he said.
He also called on estate agents to provide free valuations of houses for people as a gesture of goodwill rather than charge high fees.
The Government's own civil servants warned in advance of the dangers of people deliberately under- valuing their houses to minimise the amount of tax they have to pay.
As a result, the property tax law gives Revenue the power to come in and inspect a home to assess its value for the property tax. There is also a €3,000 fine for deliberately making a false declaration.
A Revenue spokeswoman said it would be providing house owners with guidance about how to value their properties early this year.
"If you follow Revenue's guidance honestly, we will accept your property value assessment," she said.
Junior Minister Brian Hayes said he believed that the Revenue Commissioners would be able to collect the correct property tax from households.
"They have a superb record of collecting tax. If there's a problem, it will be dealt with," he said.