The controversial letters sent by Revenue to close to one million households about the Local Property Tax have created “a huge amount of unnecessary confusion and worry” and failed to outline additional charges associated with certain payment methods, it has been claimed.
The head of the Consumer Association of Ireland (CAI) Dermott Jewell said that the controversy over early payment for those using credit or debit cards had been blown out of proportion in some quarters, adding that Revenue should be congratulated for giving people a range of different payment options but he suggested that it could have done more to outline the cost associated with some of them.
“People who are contacting the CAI are undoubtedly more confused now than they were when paying the tax during the summer,” Mr Jewell said. “If spreading a payment of €100 over 12 months ultimately costs consumers €110 when charges outside the control of the Revenue are factored in, I think that should have been outlined. People have agreed to a certain level of tax and they are angry that if they choose to pay one way over another they are hit with more charges.”
Mr Jewell also said the Revenue letter's request for more financial and personal information had led to disquiet. "The Revenue already has all our details and that is fair enough, but now it seems to be suggesting that consumers need to provide more information and be proactive on an ongoing basis when it comes to this tax and people do not want that."
The Revenue has defended its LPT communications campaign which, it said, featured a 20-page booklet, a letter explaining the different payment options, press releases, newspaper ads, a regularly updated website and a helpline.
Addressing the controversy over some payment options, a spokeswoman told The Irish Times that much of the comment had focused on the fact that payment online by debit or credit card results in immediate payment. "This has led to accusations that Revenue is requiring payment to be made during 2013 for a 2014 liability," she said.
“It is important to point out that this is the nature of the debit/credit card systems and is exactly what would happen if you booked a flight or a concert for 2014 using your card.”