GOVERNMENT officials are still banking on a last-minute rush to pay the €100 household charge -- with just 11 days to go to the deadline.
Homeowners will feel the brunt of a full property tax next year as the Government fast-tracks the drive for a permanent levy, the Irish Independent revealed yesterday.
The new system is expected to be self-assessed and could mean the owner of a three-bed, semi-detached home having to pay between €200 and €300.
Ministers are keen to get away from the flat-rate charge of €100 for all, regardless of income or property type.
But before the introduction of the property tax, the Government has to solve the problem of the low payment level of the household charge.
Just over 250,000 of the 1.6 million households in the country are paid-up so far, with the deadline looming on March 31.
The head of the body in charge of collecting the household charge said yesterday he expected to see a rapid increase in the numbers paying before the end of the month.
Local Government Management Agency chief executive Paul McSweeney said he didn't have any fears about the ability of the computer system to deal with a flood of payments.
He also said he expected a large proportion of payments to be made by post.
But campaigners against the charge continue to encourage homeowners not to pay the tax.
A protest rally will be held in the National Stadium in Dublin next Saturday afternoon.
The Government is also planning to avail of a law that allows the deduction of the €100 fee from the pay or social welfare benefits of homeowners who dodge the payment.
But such a deduction would only be a last resort and would have to be ordered by a court.
A late-payment fee of €10 will apply if the charge is not 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 the Revenue Commissioner's 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.
However, councils will also have the power to take prosecutions against homeowners who fail to pay the charge.
The prosecution will be by way of summary proceedings and a court may impose a class C fine under the Fines Act 2010, which ranges from €1,000 to €2,500.
After that, if the homeowner refuses to pay the fine, it will be up to the courts to decide what action to take, such as imposing a prison sentence or deducting the payment from income.