Second-home tax raises nearly €10m in late payment charges
Homeowners with second properties including holiday homes have had to pay nearly €10m in penalties for late payments under the controversial NPPR (Non Principle Private Residence) charge.
New figures obtained by the Sunday Independent also show that owners of second properties have been steadily off-loading holiday homes and investment properties since the tax was introduced in 2009.
The tax has taken more than €200m in three years.
However, the number of properties on which the €200 annual charge was liable and paid has fallen from just over 325,000 in 2009 to 313,000 this year.
And the total take from the charge introduced by the last government has also fallen sharply from €70.03m in its first year of operation to a projected total of €63.4m for 2011.
The charge is levied and collected by city and county councils around the country and is used to support the provision of local services.
Income from the charge is retained by local authorities and does not reach the Exchequer.
In New Ross, Co Wexford, one of the town's biggest landlords, Tottenham Estates, has written to some 50 leasees informing them that they will have to pick up the €200 charge even though the tenants do not own their property.
The landlords picked up the tab for the first two years of the NPPR but now say they have no option but to pass the charge on to tenants.
This year, the €200 charge became liable on March 31, but property owners had until the last day in June to pay the NPPR while still avoiding penalties for late payment.
But if they paid a month late in July the NPPR charge rose to €220, in August €240, in September €260 and if it still hasn't been lodged to the local authority this month it will cost €280.
Almost five per cent of the total take from the NPRR has been made up of €9.63m in late payments -- an indication of the difficult circumstances of many people around the country who are property rich but cash poor.
It is up to property owners to establish whether they are liable for the tax which is based on the ownership and the status of the property on March 31.
Private rented properties, vacant properties -- except unsold new homes -- and holiday homes are all liable.
There are exemptions including the situation where one spouse stays in the family home as their main residence after a divorce or separation, and the other spouse lives in the second home.
There is also exemptions for the elderly and the incapacitated.
Anyone who moves out of their home into long-term residential care due to physical or mental illness is exempt from the tax.
Many local authorities still do not have accurate records about the number of "second properties" within their boundaries.
It means that hundreds of people are likely to escape the tax because it is too expensive and time consuming to pursue those who have not paid.