Thursday 24 May 2018

Property tax farce over €10 second-home charge

Handling fee to hit all families who can't pay bill online

Mark O'Regan, Majella O'Sullivan and Paul Melia

THE collection of property taxes descended further into farce last night after the Government announced a €10 penalty on those who don't pay the 'second home' charge online.

Homeowners who opt to pay this €200 tax at local council offices, instead of online, will now have to pay a €10 'handling' fee.

The revelation will add to the growing anger over the chaotic handling of the introduction of the property taxes in general.

And fresh doubts emerged over plans to use local authority staff to remind people to pay the controversial €100 household charge.

On Saturday, the Irish Independent revealed that council workers would call to homes to remind householders to pay the tax. But unions last night said they had not been consulted.

IMPACT, which represents 20,000 council staff, said it would need assurances on workers' safety before they advised members to co-operate with the government instruction.

The Coalition yesterday increased the pressure on homeowners to cough up before next Saturday's deadline, saying that local services would be cut unless the money was paid.

Office of Public Works minister Brian Hayes told Fine Gael members in Laois/Offaly yesterday: "Those who say don't pay the household charge need to explain what services they want to see axed."

"Pretending that there is some painless solution to this is utterly delusional."

At 5pm yesterday, just 363,478 of the 1.6 million eligible households had registered -- a rise of just 35,277 since Friday.

And another 25,000 postal applications must yet be processed

Now almost 250,000 a day will have to register before Saturday's deadline or be hit with a late payment fee of €10.

It also emerged that second-home owners would be hit with an extra levy of €10 if they refuse to pay the €200 second-home (NPPR) charge online. The tax, introduced in 2009, must be paid by June 30 next by anyone who owns a second home.

More than 300,000 properties were liable last year.

Many owners who bought properties as investments are mired in negative equity with hefty mortgages.

Some who have rented out their second property will have to pay a total of €410 in household charges and NPPR charges.

Anger

The decision to slip in the handling charge for NPPR payers will fuel even more anger at Environment Minister Phil Hogan (pictured), who has faced massive hostility to the €100 household charge.

Yesterday he insisted that the deadline would not be extended, saying people should be under no illusion that it would go away.

"I think that the people of Ireland don't have to be told at this stage that they have to comply with the law otherwise penalties and fees will click in after March 31, so I would encourage people to do so," he said.

Cabinet colleagues Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Health Minister James Reilly also urged people to pay.

"I think people should look into their hearts and say do they want this country to recover and do they want services for themselves and children.

"Do they want paths safe and parks in good order? This is a stepping stone to a more equitable charge on property," Mr Reilly said.

Interest and late-payment penalties are added to the €100 charge if it is not paid on time, while people convicted in court face fines of up to €2,500 -- plus another €100 penalty per day if they refuse to pay after their conviction.

Households will be given just two warnings -- one verbal, followed by a written warning -- before legal action is taken.

Irish Independent

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