Tánaiste seeks delay to 2014 of property tax payment

Move follows concern over debit, credit card and cheque payers having to pay this month

 Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore became involved in the controversy over payment dates for  Local Property Tax  because he believed it was a question of equity and fairness, his spokesman said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore became involved in the controversy over payment dates for Local Property Tax because he believed it was a question of equity and fairness, his spokesman said. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 15:21

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has asked the Revenue Commissioners to reconsider its approach to how the Local Property Tax is to be collected from a large proportion of those liable.

There has been increasing concern in recent days that homeowners who opt to pay the tax for 2014 by debit or credit card or cheque will have to pay the entire amount upfront before the end of November.

The spokesman said the Tánaiste believed that if the property tax is a 2014 tax, then it should be paid in 2014 and not this month - as is required under current arrangements - if paying by these methods.

The intervention by Mr Gilmore this weekend came in the wake of widespread criticism from taxpayers wishing to make a single payment by card or cheque for the tax in 2014, the first year that the property tax will be levied for a full year. It was only applied for six months this year.

The Revenue Commissioners has cited data protection requirements which it says restricts them from retaining credit/debit card details for longer than is necessary to process and validate the payment as the reason why it cannot postpone these payments until January.

As things stand, if paying in a lump sum using a cheque, credit or debit card, the sum is deducted immediately.

It can be paid in one go by next March if a special direct debit is set up. It can also be paid in instalments next year by direct debit or via deductions from salary, pension, social welfare or the single farm payment.

The Tánaiste became involved in the controversy, said his spokesman, because he believed it was a question of equity and fairness. If the tax was being introduced for 2014, the expectation was that the payment should occur then - and not two months beforehand.

It is understood the Revenue has been asked to reconsider its position on single payments and move back the deadline from this month until early in 2014.

Speaking today, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the issues around the payment of the property tax were “another example of incompetence by the Government”.

He said it could be expected that the Government would be competent “and be able to communicate properly to citizens - but that doesn’t appear to be the case”.

Mr Adams, attending a meeting of the party’s Ard Comhairle in Dublin today, said the issue had been raised by some delegates who have been “inundated” with queries around the payment of the tax in recent days.

Mr Adams also raised concern over Department of Finance statistics which indicate a majority of mortgages in arrears of 90 days have not been restructured, and called on the Government to intervene.

“The Government needs to take charge. We’ve argued for an independent insolvency body which would have teeth which would actually have the ability to arbitrate and impose whatever it decided upon the banks,” he said, adding the fact that the banks are not engaging with those in arrears was “particularly offensive to most people because of the amount of taxpayers’ money that has been put into the banks”.