Co council tenants sent demands for house tax
Demands should have gone to Landlord - the County council
ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan has been asked to explain why local authority tenants in Cork have received household charge bills - despite not being liable for the charge.
The issue was raised at this week's county council northern area meeting by Cllr Noel McCarthy (Lab), who said the issue was causing grave concern to many "elderly and vulnerable tenants" who had received demands.
"They can not understand why they are getting these letters when they don't own the houses. One woman told me she could not sleep for days after getting a letter from the Revenue," said Cllr McCarthy.
"We should seek an explanation from the Minister for these letters and he should write to the recipients assuring them it is the council and not them who are liable for the charge," he added.
Cllr Kevin O'Keeffe (FF) agreed but said what particularly concerned him was the inconsistency of the assessment being sent to property owners: "I know of one estate in Mitchelstown where a row of three similar houses had received demands for different amounts. I want to know why this is happening."
Gerard Murphy (FG) said it was important the message went out to local authority tenants and those in voluntary housing schemes that they were not liable for the charge.
"Cllr O'Keeffe's point has been dealt with by the chair of the Revenue Commissioners, who quite clearly said there was no database available of the value of homes," said Cllr Murphy.
He said their bills had been assessed from a variety of sources that the chairperson had admitted were incomplete.
"They have made it clear that mistakes were made and that the amounts quoted were assessments. All Revenue is requesting is that people make a genuine self-assessment of the value of their property at this point in time and return the tax based on that," he said.
Cllr Frank O'Flynn (FF) said Cllr Murphy was trying to defend his "accident prone minister". "The minister has made a complete cock-up of this whole thing. At the end if the day there are people out there getting letters who should not be," said Cllr O'Flynn.
"In addition, there are people out there paying for valuations on their homes, which are costing them money. I see no reason why similar houses close to each other should not have the same valuation placed on them by the Revenue," he added.
Cllr Murphy replied by saying it was important the message did not get confused.
"There is no need for people to get auctioneers. It is important they realise they can self-assess their properties," said Cllr Murphy.
"When Cllr O'Flynn criticises the lack of a database he needs to remember that computers were available when his party was in power and yet they still messed up e-voting and the PPARS system. It is little wonder there is no accurate database available because they did not understand the whole concept of databases and computers in the first place," he added.