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Fionnan Sheahan: Tax authorities firing a warning shot and have weapons at their disposal

IN case you didn't know already, property prices are higher in Dublin.

Therefore, homeowners in the capital pay higher property tax bills as the tax is based on the value of the home.

But the gulf in payment rates revealed by the latest figures from the Revenue Commissioners will still be a bitter pill to swallow for homeowners in Dublin.

The average property tax bill in Dublin is 80pc higher than in the rest in the country.

The disclosure in the Revenue's statistics will heighten demands for a cut in property tax levels in the capital and other urban areas.

The property tax is set to become a key battleground in the local elections in May.

Councillors will have the ability to lower or raise the level of property tax by 15pc from next year.

Homeowners whose property tax is going directly to fund local authorities won't be showing much patience for councillors who can't keep spending under control. The days of councillors washing their hands of approving estimates may be numbered.

Elsewhere, Revenue is warning homeowners they have six weeks to sort out their property tax bills – or else. The tax authorities have a range of weapons in their arsenal to pursue errant and evasive homeowners, including debt collection and enforcement.

The property tax compliance rate for 2013 is 93pc. The corresponding compliance rate for the household charge from 2012 is 80pc.

The difference justifies the Government's decision to hand over responsibility for collecting the property tax to Revenue.

Revenue is closing in on the 7pc of homeowners who haven't paid up or applied for an exemption. It is firing a warning shot not just at those who haven't paid up, but homeowners who have undervalued their property.

Revenue is using the data provided by homeowners to spot those who are deliberately undervaluing their home.

Anybody who thought they would get away with it will now be nervous. Revenue is no brush-off.

Homeowners have six weeks. Take their advice. Sort it out.

Irish Independent