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Saturday 25 November 2017

Homeowners will have to wait months to know size of next property tax bill

Revenue boss Josephine Feehily has asked councils for the size of any adjustment
Revenue boss Josephine Feehily has asked councils for the size of any adjustment

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

HOMEOWNERS will have to wait until October to learn whether their property tax bills will be slashed in 2015, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The Revenue Commissioners has set a strict deadline for councils to reveal whether they intends to adjust the property tax rate in their areas by up to 15pc.

In a surprise intervention, Revenue has told councils that it must know the size of the adjustment by September 30 so it can give homeowners enough notice about the size of their bills next year.

But the staging of the local elections at the end of May – just four months before the Revenue deadline – will pose difficulties for councillors tasked with deciding the new rate.

Councillors will have the power to increase or reduce the level of property tax in their area by 15pc, provided the budget can be balanced elsewhere.

If a council decides to reduce the rate by the full 15pc, the average family could see their property tax bills slashed by up to €100.

The measure is expected to make property tax a key issue in this May's local elections as councillors will be under pressure to say what they will do to cut costs.

However, there were indications last night that councils would struggle to agree on the size of the adjustment in time for the Revenue deadline.

Dublin City councillor Tom Brabazon (FF) said different political groupings would be seeking varying adjustments in the property tax rate.

"I am in favour of slashing the property tax by the entire 15pc when this power is vested with the councils. However, I see it as virtually impossible that councils would be able to agree a specific in time for the Revenue deadline," he told the Irish Independent.

Wicklow councillor Irene Winters (FG) said she believed it was "highly unlikely" that councils would be in a position to adjust the property tax rate for next year and that any such move would require the staging of special meetings during the summer.

"Any new council formed after May's elections will not have the financial information necessary to meet this deadline," she said.

"How would a council make such an important decision when its members don't know what level of funding it will be receiving to pay for services next year?"

According to Revenue, the September 30 deadline is necessary in order to give its officials enough time to notify homeowners about future changes.

Where a resolution is passed by a council to vary the rate, the Finance (Local Property) Tax 2012 sets out the legal requirement for local authorities to notify Revenue of the change.

"This is to allow us to make the necessary changes to our systems and to ensure that we are in a position to advise property owners in October 2014 of their LPT liability for 2015 in order that the property owner may select their preferred payment method in good time for the filing date," Revenue said.

Irish Independent

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