Tuesday 22 October 2019

€100 house charge: tax, ESB bills to be trawled

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Government will chase down homeowners who try to escape the new €100 household charge by tracking information from the taxman and the ESB.

Further details emerged last night of how determined the authorities are to catch those who try to avoid paying the bill.

The Coalition will today continue to push through the new law that will bring in the charge for 1.6 million homeowners by the start of the new year in the face of fierce opposition.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan branded attempts to organise a mass boycott of the charge as "irresponsible".

As he did so it emerged the Government will use a variety of databases to ensure house owners do not evade payment.

Under the new law, the ESB, the Revenue Commissioners and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) will all pass data on to councils to help identity properties liable for the charge.

- The ESB database can show specific properties where electricity is used -- pinpointing those that are occupied.

- The Revenue has information on property transactions, such as stamp duty, VAT and capital gains taxes.

- The PRTB has data on rental properties.

Together, the data will help provide a clear picture of who is paying and who is avoiding the charge.

Where a property is being sold and the charge is unpaid, the legislation insists the seller will have to pay off all outstanding household charges, late payment fees and interest.

But stern opposition is deepening to the controversial new tax, which carries a fine of up to €2,500 if it is not paid.

Today a new campaign opposing the charges will be unleashed, backed by a range of Independent, Socialist and People Before Profit TDs.

A string of TDs from the opposition benches stepped forward yesterday to say they would not pay the charge despite the threat of a punitive fine.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny dismissed threats of any mass boycott among the 1.6 million homeowners facing the charge in the new year.

"This is a charge of €2 per week and it's going to be used for very vital services in each area around the country," he said.

But Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins warned of a mounting campaign, calling on Ireland's 1.6 million householders to refuse to pay the charge.

"This is their opportunity to have their own referendum on these erroneous austerity policies," he said.

"Do you know that the attitude of the people out there is if you bring one to court on March 31, they will all go?"

He described the household charge as a disgraceful new burden on ordinary people.


"Do you have any idea, Taoiseach, of how angry and frustrated and outraged our people have become over the last three years as their wages have been slashed, as their services have been slashed, health slashed, education slashed and our society hollowed out?" he demanded.

Mr Kenny said the charge is expected to raise €1.6bn, which will go towards funding local authorities, including fire services, library services and water.

He also pointed out there will be a number of people exempt from the charge, including those on social welfare, people living in so-called ghost estates, and tenants in local authority housing.

Irish Independent

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