Sunday 17 November 2019

Only ‘small number’ of poorest will avoid paying property tax

Revenue chairman Josephine Feehily
Revenue chairman Josephine Feehily

Colm Kelpie

EXEMPTIONS to the property tax because of financial hardship will be very restrictive and narrow, the Revenue has warned.

Revenue chairman Josephine Feehily reiterated that the controversial levy would be taken from salaries, bank accounts and social welfare if payments were not made.

And missed payments will be hit with 8pc interest, and deferred payments a with a 4pc charge.

Ms Feehily told the Dail Public Accounts Committee the categories of those given exemptions would be small.

“It's a very restrictive section. The idea of sending 1.6 million people an encouragement to tell us that they're in hardship is something that wouldn't make sense,” Ms Feehily said.

“All of the other exemptions are available on a self-assessment basis. This one is very narrow. (The terms are) very specific, serious, significant and unexpected.”

Ms Feehily said they were working on the details surrounding what constitutes a significant and unexpected financial hardship under the legislation.

She told the Dail's public spending watchdog that letters would be sent to 1.6 million people from about March 11 over a four-week period.

They will include a revenue estimate of the amount of tax due based on a broad valuation. Homeowners can either agree with the valuation or provide their own as it is a self-assessed tax.


She said Revenue would begin a publicity campaign at the end of the first week in March, ahead of the letters being sent.

Key details of the process include:

● A paper return has to be filed by May 7 and an online return by May 28, although payment is not required until July 1. Payment options have to be chosen on the return.

● Those seeking a deferral will state the reason in their return.

● There are six ways to pay including cheque, cash, credit and debit card and direct debit. You can also opt to have it deducted from salaries.

Ms Feehily said options for dealing with people who refused to pay included deducting at source from salaries and having attachment orders issued against salaries or a person's bank account.

This means that Revenue would be granted powers placing restrictions on wages or accounts.

“If necessary, we can go further than that,” she said.

She also said that those on social welfare who did not pay would be reminded of their right to a deferral but that the Department of Social Welfare would be contacted to have the payments collected.

Ms Feehily reiterated that the enforcement options were lawful.

A 4pc interest rate charge will be imposed on those who defer their payment, while 8pc will be charged against households that refuse to pay.

“I don't want to be in a position of enforcing any tax,” she said.

“Our tax system is a self-assessment system. If it's not backed up with enforcement across all the taxes then we have a non-compliance problem, which will get worse and worse.”

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