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Your ESB bill will be used to find €100 house tax defaulters

THE ESB will be asked to hand over customers' details so that the Government can track down homeowners who don't pay the household tax.

Dodgers will be hunted down using information from their other household bills, Environment Minister Phil Hogan has confirmed.

The Government is becoming increasingly worried about the small number of people who have so far paid the €100 tax.

Figures show that out of the 1.6m liable for the charge just 200,000 have paid up.

A deadline of March 31 has been set for the payment after which fines can be imposed on late payments.

Mr Hogan's department is now confident that it will be granted access to the records of householder's names and addresses held by the ESB, following talks with the Data Protection Commissioner.

Other sources of information which will be used to identify those dodging the charge will include the databases of the Revenue, the Department of Social Protection and the second home tax records held by the local authorities.

Last night, Sinn Fein environment spokesman Brian Stanley said the plan to use people's utility bills showed how panicked the Government has become.


"This is the clearest evidence yet that Minister Hogan is losing the household charge battle. It is time he binned this unfair charge," he said.

But Mr Hogan is insistent that he is going ahead with the household charge -- and has ruled out extending the March 31 deadline.

He has also argued that any shortfall in the €160m target for the scheme will result in local authorities having to cut back their services. A national radio campaign is currently running which promotes the payment of the tax as being essential to maintain local services.

People on ghost estates and those on mortgage interest supplement will get a waiver from the charge, while those living in council estates will be exempt. Fines for those who won't pay can be deducted from their wages or social welfare payments.

Mr Hogan told the Dail last week that the household charge was not "progressive or fair" -- and that he would replace it with a property tax next year.