Loophole that exempts €1m houses from levy

Claire Murphy

A LOOPHOLE in the Household Charge means that wealthy homeowners on 'Millionaires' Row' can escape paying the tax, the Herald can reveal.

Owners of houses that sold for well over ¤1m during the boom can avoid paying the €100 fee because one property in their estate is "unfinished".

The Herald can reveal that wealthy homeowners are exempt from coughing up the €100 due to bizarre Department of Environment rules.

One new estate in a seaside town -- whose residents include a Wicklow county manager, a bank manager and a former developer -- are exempt from the charge because just a single property has nobody living in it.

The debacle surrounding the Household Charge has rumbled on today, with the revelation that a €140,000-a-year county manager is not obliged to pay.

Residents in the Avonvale Hall estate in Wicklow town are exempt from paying the charge because one of the properties is deemed "unfinished" -- although they can voluntarily pay if they wish to do so.

The estate is one of hundreds that the household charge has been waived on because of being classified as an "unfinished development".

The Department of the Environment has confirmed that residents are not obliged to pay the levy as the estate is classified as a 'category 3' development.

A Department spokesperson told the Herald: "This development was included in the 2010 survey of unfinished developments and was categorised as a Category 3 Development (ie. where a developer is in place but there is no on-site activity and the developer is responsible for managing the site from a public safety perspective)."


The estate -- known locally as "millionaires row" -- is home to the county manager Edward Sheehy.

The plush properties on the development sold for well over ¤1m in the boom.

Bizarrely, the estate is classified as a "category three" development and is therefore exempt from the levy.

However the Herald has learned that just one house out of the 20 on the estate is currently not being lived in.

Wicklow County Council told the Herald that Mr Sheehy voluntarily coughed up the €100 payment.

A spokesperson said: "The €100 Household Charge represents a very modest contribution to the cost of providing vital local services such as road maintenance and public lighting, fire and emergency services, libraries etc. The County Manager urges all householders to pay the charge before March 31."