Thursday 19 October 2017

Revenue in climbdown over property tax payment

Fionnan Sheahan and Fiach Kelly

HOMEOWNERS who pay their property tax by cheque will be allowed to settle up by the new year, rather than paying before Christmas.

In an apparent climbdown by the Revenue Commissioners, cheque payments now don't have to be made this month.

Ministers yesterday discussed the controversy over the pre-Christmas property tax grab by Revenue.

Revenue had told homeowners to pay their property tax bill for 2014 by November 27 – if they were making a single payment by credit or debit card or by cheque.

But the cheque payment has now been broken into a two-stage process, with homeowners having to say how they will pay this month and actually making the payment by January 1.

The tax authority is understood to be is continuing to examine the issue of allowing homeowners paying by credit and debit card to delay payment until next year.

The Labour Party is pushing for a break in the link between homeowners saying how they will pay and the payment.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is not satisfied with Revenue's approach and wants further changes to the rules to ensure single payments by card don't have to come out of accounts by the end of this month.

Mr Gilmore's spokesman said there was "still a concern" around the issue.

Revenue's original letter to homeowners indicated payments by cheque would "be taken from your account at the date on which you make the transaction".

But an advertisement from Revenue yesterday said cheques can be sent "by January 1, 2014", thereby separating the process of a homeowner saying how they want to pay and the payment.

A government spokesman welcomed the clarification. "If you indicate your intention to pay by cheque, you can pay at a later date before January 1."

But he added that Mr Gilmore still believed further changes could be made.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan updated the Cabinet on the controversy surrounding the Revenue letters on the property tax.

Mr Noonan met with Revenue chairman Josephine Feehily to discuss the confusion around the payment methods.

RESPOND

Ms Feehily is due to appear before the Oireachtas finance committee tomorrow to respond to questions from TDs about the debacle.

In the Dail Taoiseach Enda Kenny said homeowners were not obliged to pay the 2014 property tax until 2014.

Mr Kenny said nobody in the country had a legal obligation or any other obligation to pay the 2014 property tax until 2014.

He said there were seven different options for payment.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said there was incoherence in the Government over the property tax and claimed the Tanaiste didn't understand how the property tax works.

Mr Martin said the property tax controversy could impact on the fragile economy.

Irish Independent

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