Sunday 21 January 2018

Revenue to collect property tax in move to slash evasion

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE taxman will be in charge of collecting the property tax when it is brought in next year -- in a move expected to sharply reduce evasion.

In the wake of the household charge farce, the Government decided last night to give the Revenue Commissioners the power to collect the new tax.

The decision comes as local authorities continue to face difficulties collecting the €100 household charge this year.

Three months after the deadline, only 60pc of homeowners have paid up and registered for the charge.

The details of exactly what powers Revenue will have in the collection of the property tax have yet to be worked out. But the mere involvement of Revenue is expected to raise the level of payment, unlike the household charge debacle.

Revenue has vast experience of collecting taxes and chasing dodgers. Getting a reminder letter from the taxman would have a galvanising effect on homeowners trying to evade paying property tax.

A Government spokesman said handing over to Revenue was "deemed the most efficient way to collect it". Asked if it was a vote of no-confidence in the Local Government Management Agency and the local authorities, who were tasked with collecting the household charge, the spokesman repeated the line that using the Revenue was "deemed the most efficient way to collect it".

Update

Details of the property tax will be discussed by the Government in October.

The reason for the early announcement of the decision to bring in the Revenue is to give the commissioners time to update their systems.

The coalition is planning to bring in the property tax to replace the household charge next year.

"That's the stated government intention, to move to bring in a property tax next year," the spokesman said.

The expert report on the property tax has still not been discussed by the Cabinet. The group, headed by former civil servant Don Thornhill, gave it to Environment Minister Phil Hogan last month.

Bringing in Revenue will be viewed as a sign the Government is going to get tough on payment of the property tax.

The coalition will also be keen to avoid delays, hassle and political protests against the charge.

Revenue has an extremely good reputation in government circles and is regarded as an extremely versatile and effective department.

It provides monthly returns to the Department of Finance on the collection of taxes. It also has the resources and systems in place.

Although Revenue normally falls under the Department of Finance, the Department of the Environment will still be the line department for dealing with the property tax.

Irish Independent

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