Deadline day for local property tax returns
Homeowners must register by tonight even though tax is not due till July
After years of speculation, the much discussed property tax was finally introduced earlier this year. And today is the last day you can pay it – at least to do so on time.
According to the Revenue, almost one million returns had been filed by last Monday. Of these, some 70 per cent were filed electronically, with the remainder submitted by post. But if you’re not one of these people, what do you need to do now in order to avoid having to panic about late fees and penalties.
Can I still file a paper return?
If you received your form from the Revenue, filled it out but forgot to send it, it’s time to take it back out of the envelope and save your stamp. The deadline for postal returns was May 7th, so it is now too late to post a return. But don’t fear – there is still time to do it electronically.
How can I file electronically?
First, log-on to the local property tax section of the Revenue Commissioners’ home page at revenue.ie. You will need three things to fulfil the requirements:
Your PPS number, or that of the “liable person” – ie, the person who is or should be paying the bill;
The property ID number you received on your tax return;
The pin number, also shown on your return from the Revenue.
With these three items, you will then be asked to select your relevant property band (more of which below), after which you can pay your tax if you so wish.
But I don’t have access to the internet?
In this instance, you can contact the Revenue directly on its helpline: (1890-200255 (mobile phone users can call 01-7023049) or +353-1-7023049 if calling from abroad) and, provided you have information on your property details, PPSN and details of how you will pay the tax, they will file the return for you.
Can I file even if I haven’t received a tax return?
If you haven’t yet received a return – or even if you have misplaced it – don’t worry, because you can still file your return.
To do so, go onto the website described above, and opt for the “I have not received a Property Pin” section. Here, you will be asked to fill in some personal information, including your PPS number and address. This will then lead you to the site allowing you to file your return.
Remember, if you are self-employed, your return will have been sent via email to your ROS inbox if you file your annual tax returns electronically, so check there if you haven’t already done so.
But I’m still not sure how I can value my house?
Filing a property tax return is very straightforward – the only difficulty that might arise is in determining the value of your property. It’s something that has had many people scratching their heads over the past couple of months, with some neighbours speaking to each other for the first time in years just to consult on each other’s valuations and resident associations meeting around the State – some for the first time in years – all to ensure that people don’t submit an out-of-line figure and attract Revenue attention either to themselves or to others by over – or, more critically – undervaluing your property compared with similar properties in your area.
But before you panic, remember the Revenue is just asking you to apply its guidelines “honestly”.
So, the first step is to consider whether or not you think the valuation the Revenue has given you in its return is accurate. If you live in a built-up urban area, where properties have been selling, it’s fairly easy to do this via the property price register (see myhome.ie/priceregister).
If not, you can rely a bit more on the Revenue’s estimates or on asking prices in your area (see http://iti.ms/18mhOep).
Once you have an idea of how much your property is worth, you can then allocate it to a band, and determine the exact amount you owe.
What if I don’t have enough money to pay for the tax?
Today is just the deadline for filing a return, not for paying the tax. So, if you are short of funds at the moment, don’t panic: you won’t have to start paying until July.
You can opt to pay your tax by direct debit. If you do so, the first deduction will be taken from your account on July 15th, followed by similar debits each month until December 15th, 2013. Note that unless you tell the Revenue otherwise, this method will continue to apply next year for your tax for 2014. It’s important to note that interest will not be charged if you opt to pay in instalments.
Alternatively, you can opt to have your tax deducted at source from a pay cheque, either in one payment or on a phased basis until December. Such deductions will start on July 1st. You can also ask to have deductions taken from social welfare payments, payments received from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, or a “single debit authority” which is like a direct debit for the full amount.
Cash payments are also possible, via An Post, Payzone outlets such as convenience stores around the State, and Omnivend kiosks, which are found in retailers nationwide.
If, on the other hand, you want to get it out of the way, you can pay directly via a credit or debit card when you file electronically. Do remember, if you use a credit or debit card, the money will be taken immediately – just as would happen with any other credit or debit card purchase. Remember also that credit card payments will attract a service charge.
There has been a huge amount of confusion on this issue and people who have not read the instructions very carefully have been surprised to find they have paid ahead of deadline – according to Exchequer returns, as much as 10 per cent of the property tax due has been received by these methods by the end of May.
What if I still don’t have the money come July?
It is possible to defer payment of the tax, either fully or in part, on grounds such as hardship or personal insolvency. However, the tax will remain as a charge on the property until it is sold and interest will be charged on it at a rate of 4 per cent annually. You can apply for a deferral right up until the deadline today. Details of exactly who is eligible to apply for a full or partial deferral are available on the Revenue website or on pages 8 & 9 of the guide that accompanied the form you received in the post.
Could I be entitled to an exemption?
Before you file a return, be sure you check the exemptions outlined on the Revenue’s website – you might find that you are exempt from the tax. For example, if you are a first-time buyer happily ensconced in a property you bought since January of this year, you won’t have to pay the tax until 2017.
Similarly, if you bought a previously unused property from a builder or developer – or if you live in a ghost estate – you will be exempt. For the full list see revenue.ie
What happens if I do nothing?
Failing to file a return will not prevent you from paying the tax. If you neglect to file, either by choice or unwittingly, the wheels of the State’s tax collecting machine will grind into place and implement “mandatory deduction”. This means that the amount you owe will automatically be deducted from either your pay cheque or social welfare payment – and, as you have failed to avail of the self-assessment option, it will be the Revenue assessment of the value of the property that will apply.
If, however, the Revenue does not get around to collecting the money in this way, you could find yourself in some trouble, with your debt referred to a sheriff or a solicitor for collection.
And remember, any unpaid property tax attaches to the property and you will not be able to sell it without paying this tax, interest and penalties due. It’s also worth noting that you are also still liable for any outstanding household charge.
If you are self-employed, the sanctions might be that bit tougher to bear. For example, if you don’t file and pay your return on a timely basis, Revenue has indicated that you won’t qualify for a tax clearance certificate. This could hamper your chances of winning government business.
In addition, failure to file on time might mean that you will also be liable for a surcharge on your income or corporation tax returns.
Failing to pay could also open you up to interest at 8 per cent and penalties, although the Revenue notes that any such action will be “preceded by engagement” with you.
And remember, if you knowingly undervalue your property, the penalty is the correct amount of tax, subject to a maximum of €3,000.
But does the Revenue know who I am?
If you haven’t received a form from the tax authorities, you might be inclined to think that they are not aware of you and your property. And this may yet be true.
According to the Revenue, it has compiled a register of some 1.66 million residential properties for the first time; but whether this is complete or not remains uncertain. Indeed, the Revenue says “it isn’t possible to state the number of residential properties in respect of which Revenue hasn’t issued an LPT Return”.
However, the next phase will be continuing to “refine and build” the register, based on “additional data sources”, including data obtained from the household charge. More importantly, as a self-assessed tax, the responsibility is on you to pay, not on Revenue to track you down.
Help, I’m still not sure what to do!
If you’re still struggling to complete your return, you can contact the Revenue directly, on its property tax helpline: 1890-200255. This will be open until 8 pm today.