Two-thirds yet to register as charge deadline approaches

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny tonight used his opening address at the Fine Gael ardfheis tonight to urge people to register for the household charge by the deadline of midnight tomorrow night.

With the deadline for paying the household charge just one day away, the total number of registered households has risen to 606,600.

“I know that new taxes are never popular. The Household Charge is no exception. But it is needed to fund essential local services,” he said in his opening address to the event at the National Convention Centre.

“To close the gap in our public finances, we must instead broaden the tax base to include a property based charge because this is less harmful than taxes on work and investment.”

The Department of the Environment said a further 52,362 properties had registered for the €100 charge since 4pm yesterday, representing the biggest surge in registrations over a 24-hour period yet.

The department claimed there was now "real momentum" behind the numbers of people registering for the charge.

A spokeswoman said the figure includes some 91,000 registrations by post that have yet to be processed.

The department’s figures indicated that around 85 per cent of applications were being processed online, and that more 11,000 properties had been registered for waivers from the charge.

Total revenue generated from the householders who have paid to date is €50.5 million.

Despite the recent influx of registrations, just less than a million households have still failed to register for the controversial charge in the run-up to tomorrow’s deadline. The best estimate is that 1.6 million households are eligible to pay the charge.

To allow for last-minute registrations, all local authorities have been directed to open their offices tomorrow to receive payments.

During a visit to the Household Charge Bureau yesterday, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan thanked people who already paid the charge, saying they had made their contribution to the continuation of essential services at the local level.

"Nobody wants the imposition of new taxes or charges, and I would have preferred not to have had to introduce this charge," Mr Hogan said.

"We are one of the last countries in Europe not to pay for essential local services through a locally based tax. The tax base in Ireland is being broadened through the introduction of the household charge and this will serve to move the focus away from taxing people's work which will in turn support employment generation."

He again said the charge was intended as an interim measure in the run-up to the establishment of a comprehensive and equitable valuation-based property tax.

Mr Hogan said he had sought to protect the most vulnerable in society from the charge, including those that did not own a residential property and whose housing needs were met through social housing options or the private rented market.

Nevertheless, he said a "concerted effort" was needed over the next few years to return our country to prosperity.