independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Noonan was warned over 'knock on effect' of €90 rate

REPRO Free: Dublin, Thursday 28th November 2013 The President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland has warned that Ireland will remain under international scrutiny as the country re-enters the bond markets and that the Government must continue to take the necessary strategic decisions to remain on the path to growth. Pictured were Peter Keegan, President of the American Chamber of Commerce, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan T.D. Picture Jason Clarke Photography.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan T.D. Picture Jason Clarke Photography.

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan was warned that rock-bottom property tax bills for council houses would have a knock-on effect on private homeowners living nearby.

He agreed to put all 130,000 council houses in the lowest property tax band of €90 per year after lobbying by local authorities.

But a red flag was raised about the impact on neighbours living next door during the discussions by one of the Revenue's most senior officials.

Revenue local property tax manager Vivienne Dempsey warned that the €90 valuation would have a knock-on effect on former council houses "next door" which had been bought by their tenants.

"I suspect that private owners in such cases may declare their values as being on a par with the local authority valuation and this will be an issue we will be required to explain should we choose to challenge the private property," she wrote in an email.

Another revenue official also recognised that the flat charge created an "anomaly".

"A former local authority house, now privately owned, would be assessed on market value while a similar property close by could be liable to a flat charge," he wrote in an email to Ms Dempsey.

However, Mr Noonan decided to go ahead with the flat rate for council houses -- which means that owners of former council houses should be confident that they will not be challenged if their house was valued at the same rate as nearby council houses.

The emails sent and received by Ms Dempsey showed the enormous level of planning that went into the property tax, with working groups on how to deduct the property tax from payments, on property ownership and valuation, on the property tax register, and on payment options.

Revenue secured housing records going back as far as 1885 and all the details of electricity customers from ESB Networks to make sure they had details of every house liable for the tax. Local authorities passed on emails and phone numbers of householders who had paid the household charge.

Some of the late changes to the property tax documentation were personally signed off on by one of the Revenue Commissioners' most senior officials, Niall Cody -- the brother of Kilkenny senior hurling manager Brian Cody.

After the work was completed, Finance Minister Michael Noonan's private secretary emailed the key officials involved to tell them that the bill had been signed into law.

Irish Independent

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