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Second-home owners have two days to pay €200 council charge or face fine

OWNERS of more than 300,000 holiday homes and residential investment properties have until Thursday to cough up €200 to their local authority or face fines.

If the levy is not paid by June 30, owners risk penalties of €20 a month.

The charge has raised almost €160m for local authorities nationwide since it was introduced in 2009. Last year, €66m was collected for 318,889 properties, down slightly on the 2009 figure of €68.2m on more than 322,000 properties.

Those who are unable to pay the charge should contact their local authority to see if they can come to an arrangement to pay by instalments, said tax expert Cathal Maxwell of paylesstax.ie.

Mr Maxwell added that there was a major squeeze being put on people with investment properties as lenders tried to force them off interest-only mortgage deals, invoking clauses in contracts to review the mortgage. This can mean monthly repayments tripling if investors have to pay interest and the capital.

And next year's new household charges from the Department of the Environment will also apply to second homes and investment properties and could mean total charges of up to €500 a year, Mr Maxwell said.

The €200 charge on second homes applies to all properties in Ireland other than a person's residence.

Owners became liable for this year's payment, known as the non-principal private residence (NPPR) charge, on March 31. However, they have until June 30 to pay and escape a surcharge. Anyone who fails to pay faces court proceedings, while the onus is on the owners to establish whether they are liable for the tax.

Irish Independent