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Saturday 23 September 2017

Property blunder as Revenue sends tax demands to children

Now children sent property tax demands

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

CHILDREN have received letters demanding payment of the property tax in the latest blunder by Revenue officials.

Hundreds of thousands of letters are being sent to homeowners this week as the Revenue begins the process of collecting the new tax.

But flaws in the database have resulted in "errors" as the 1.66 million letters are posted out.

The Irish Independent has learnt that in some cases children have received a notice seeking payment, despite being of school age and not owning property.

One irate mother said that she and her husband were mortgage holders on their home, but their 15-year-old daughter had received the letter.

The child's only source of income is wages from a part-time job in a local shop. It is understood this is the reason she was on the Revenue tax database and was sent the tax letter by mistake.

"My daughter opened the letter to find she was liable to pay the tax. She asked was it because she had a part-time job and her dad was out ofwork?" said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous.

"I contacted Revenue, saying it was ridiculous, and that the letter should be addressed to the owner of the property. I was told that was what the database was turning out. How is a database sending out letters to children who aren't paying the mortgage?"

She said that after making inquiries, she found out about several other children in her area who had received similar letters.

"Another girl, who lives around the corner, who's 19, also got a letter saying she was the property owner," she said.

The Revenue Commissioners admitted that errors would be made when sending out 1.66 million demands for payment.

"Revenue has always been upfront about this," it said.

"As there is no complete register of residential properties in the State, Revenue has had to compile the register from various sources, meaning there will be some errors in our records and a very small minority of individuals will receive a letter in error," a spokeswoman added.

She said if a person received a letter in error, it was important to inform the taxman so the register was corrected. But there are concerns that because letters are only addressed to one person at each property, they may be falling into the wrong hands.

"Unless your child gives you the letter, you won't know you get it," the mother added. "The way I see it, they're posting them to kids knowing they're going to be handed over. When you ring to complain, they know you got the letter."

Collection of the controversial tax continues to cause concern for thousands of homeowners, who face the prospect of being hit with fines and interest penalties if they do not correctly value their home.

There are fears that people who appeal the Revenue's assessment of their tax bill could face lengthy delays to have their case heard.

An online valuation guide to assist people has also been criticised for being too vague to offer any real help.

New figures show that more than 40pc of all homeowners have received letters seeking payment, with 714,470 sent in recent weeks

Some 5,567 people have submitted returns electronically, and 1,436 by post – so far this equates to 0.42pc of the total number of liable homeowners.

Advice

The tax is self-assessed, meaning the owner decides how much the property is worth and what their tax bill is.

They are asked to use data from the property price register, local knowledge or professional valuers. Revenue's notice of estimate is only a guide.

The Revenue Commissioners said that 11,687 calls had been made to a helpline seeking advice, with 4,000 received yesterday.

The online property valuation guide had been consulted 688,509 times.

"Throughout this month and the beginning of April, Revenue is issuing Local Property Tax returns in respect of 1.66 million properties," said the Revenue spokeswoman.

"Only one return is required per property. If you are not the sole owner of the property, you should agree with the other owner(s) who is to complete and submit the return and pay the tax due.

"If no one pays, Revenue can collect from any of the owners."

Irish Independent

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