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Sunday 22 April 2018

‘We haven’t picked gang of heavies to collect property tax’, reveals Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore as he defends Revenue appointment

Lyndsey Telford

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has been forced to defend the appointment of Revenue Commissioners to collect the controversial property tax.

The Labour leader rejected accusations that the Government had chosen the authority as its "gang of heavies", saying it was simply appointed because it is the state agency for collecting taxes.

Independent TD Shane Ross said the coalition changed tack from how it handled the divisive household charge - which involved self-registration - to force the money out of hard-pressed householders.

"The Government has extraordinarily decided that on the issue of property tax, it is going to bring in the heavies to collect the money from people who won't be able to pay," Mr Ross said.

"People will have their property tax, which they are unable to pay, deducted at source."

Details of the new tax, which will come into force in July 2013, were unveiled in the budget.

The Government set the rate at 0.18% of the value of a home, rising to 0.25% for properties over €1m.

This will see the owner of a home worth the national average price of €157,400 paying nearly €300 every year.

The tax will replace the controversial household charge - a €100 levy introduced last January as an interim measure. So far, around 70% of homeowners have paid the charge.

The Bill to introduce the tax is expected to pass through the Dail tomorrow.

With Revenue Commissioners appointed to collect the property tax, opposition TDs have argued it will force those who cannot afford to pay to make sacrifices.

The Tanaiste insisted the tax had to be introduced as a means to broaden Ireland's tax base.

He said it was part of a difficult budget, but that the €3.5 billion in austerity measures were introduced to lead to Ireland's economic recovery.

"The Parliament of this country decides on the levying of a tax and there is an obligation on everyone to be compliant," Mr Gilmore said.

"The Revenue Commissioners have developed their expertise in the collection of taxes."

He said if the Government were to appoint a separate agency to collect the tax, it would then be accused of duplicating services and wasting money.

The Tanaiste also pointed out that some householders will be given an option to defer the payment of the tax - which could be paid upon the eventual sale of the property.

Certain exemptions will apply to homeowners receiving different benefits, individuals earning less than €15,000 a year and those living in ghost estates.

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