COURT prosecutions against homeowners who refuse to pay the €100 household charge will take years to happen. Those who refuse to pay can be hit with fines of up to €2,500.
The penalties range from an extra fee of €10 after six months to the ultimate sanction of an appearance in court.
But a government source told the Irish Independent the arrival of a case in court would possibly take years from the introduction of the charge in January.
Socialist TD Joe Higgins challenged the Government to say if it was planning to bring in a law to take a fine from the income of workers or social welfare recipients.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dail the Government had promised to bring in a new Fines Bill on fines imposed by the courts. But he didn't go into the specifics
Homeowners who don't pay the household charge won't find themselves immediately in the courts.
A late payment fee of €10 will apply if the charge is paid within six months of the due date, €20 between six and 12 months and €30 if the payment is 12 months late.
These penalties are similar to the rules that apply under Revenue laws on the late filing and payment of certain taxes.
After two years of failing to pay, the penalty rises to €280 with the combination of the charges, the late payment fees and late payment interest.
Councils will also have the power to take prosecutions against homeowners.
A court may impose a class C fine under the Fines Act 2010, which range from €1,000 to €2,500. If the homeowner refuses to pay, it will be up to the courts to decide what action to take -- such as imposing a prison sentence.
But there are no instructions being issued to local authorities about timeframes for pursuing those who fail to pay the charge.