Thursday 24 May 2018

Homeowners who overpaid property tax set for refund

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

HOMEOWNERS will get a second chance to value their house for property tax – and get a refund if they have already overpaid.

The taxman is giving people who "overvalued" their houses a chance to reduce their property tax bill.

The Revenue Commissioners is going to send out guidelines later in the year to householders on seeking a potential refund – such as including details of local house price sales. A Revenue spokeswoman said detailed guidelines would be published later in the year to tell people how to claim refunds for overpaying their property tax. She said that in the meantime, a person could write to the Revenue's local property tax office in Government Buildings, Kilrush Road, Ennis, Co Clare.

Around 1.57 million people have registered to pay the property tax by self-assessing the value of their home. And €126.5m has already been collected in upfront property tax payments by the Revenue.

Homeowners had to put their properties into one of 20 valuation bands – ranging from €1 to over €1m. But there are concerns that some people automatically accepted the Revenue estimate for how much property tax they owed – even if it was out of kilter with house-price values in their area.

And due to the slump in sales during the property crash, many people only had "boom- time" valuations to base their property-tax estimates on.

The property tax is based on the value of a person's home on the specific date of May 1, 2013. They will be able to get a refund if they can convince the Revenue that they overvalued their house at that point in time.

However, they will not be able to lower their property-tax bill by arguing that its value has fallen further since then. The property tax will be based on the May 1, 2013 valuation from now until 2016 – with further valuations being carried out then.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that anyone who believes they have over-valued their house must contact the Revenue in writing with appropriate evidence.

"Evidence could be in the form of recent sales or advertised house prices in the area, professional valuations or house price surveys for the area," he said. Many householders who believe they have overpaid will be hoping to supply their own evidence to the Revenue because getting a professional valuation from an estate agent can cost more than €100.

A person who incorrectly valued their house at €105,000 rather than €99,000 on May 1 will be paying €112 in property tax this year instead of €45 – a difference of €67 per year. The difference will increase to €90 next year when the full-year rate of property tax kicks in. If they do not contact the Revenue to correct their mistake, they will be locked in to paying this rate until 2016 – when the next re-valuation will be carried out

WARNED

The Revenue had always emphasised that its estimated property tax figure was not to be relied on and that people should make their own decision before filing a tax return.

Revenue has already warned that it will be writing to householders this month if they have not paid the property tax – and will then be contacting their employers to deduct the tax from their wages.

It has also emerged that the country's poorest local authorities will benefit from "top-ups" from the property-tax fund.

Around 80pc of the property- tax revenue will go to the council area it was collected from – but the remaining 20pc will be shared out among councils with the "weaker funding bases".

Irish Independent

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