Deduction from salaries, pensions, and social welfare payments by Revenue are now being processed as deadlines have lapsed on almost a quarter of a million property owners who received warning letters demanding payment of the 2012 household charge.
Revenue is still receiving up to 4,000 payments of the household charge every day, but is now on the verge of taking enforcement action — including the use of solicitors and sheriffs — against those who continue to resist paying the charge.
One letter seen by the Irish Examiner and received in mid-April warned homeowners that if they failed to pay or make an arrangement to pay the outstanding 2012 household charge within 14 days, Revenue would issue instructions to take the money and interest from the person’s account in equal installments between now and December. While the charge was initially €100, it has now doubled to €200.
A comparison of the property tax and household charge (HHC) registers has enabled Revenue to establish that the HHC has still not been paid on 400,000 properties.
The Department of Finance admitted the database “may not be 100% accurate” for a number of reasons, including:
nThe Local Government Management Agency register has the name of the person who paid the HHC rather than the owner of the property. Therefore, for example, if a son or daughter paid the HHC on behalf of a parent, and particularly where the address of the property was a “non-unique” rural address, Revenue may not have been able to match the payment to the right property;
nSome properties liable for the property tax were exempt from the household charge and, unlike the property tax, property owners were not required to make a claim for exemption from HHC. For that reason, Revenue could not identify every property exempt from HHC through the cross-referencing process;
nThere are some examples where the register did not fully record situations where the HHC was paid to a local authority directly
Nonetheless, Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed Revenue has so far written to 227,000 property owners who, according to their records, have not paid the €200 charge on 273,800 of the 400,000 properties. Mr Noonan said further letters are due to issue in due course.
He said the “forecasted” yield for the property tax in 2014 had included the work to be done by Revenue in retrieving the household charge.
“The commissioners advise that it is not possible at this stage to confirm how much they will collect in 2014 in relation to HHC arrears or if the forecast of €550m will be achieved,” he said. “This will depend on the outcome of their household charge compliance campaign...
“I am also informed that about €2m was collected in 2013, €13.8m has already been collected in 2014, of which €8.2m was paid since Revenue’s compliance campaign began on April 17 2014. The Commissioners continue to receive approximately 3,500 to 4,000 payments of HHC arrears every day.”
Mr Noonan said he had been told by Revenue it will shortly begin to take “appropriate enforcement action” against any owner they have written to in connection with HHC arrears.
“Such enforcement action may include deduction at source from salaries, occupational pension and certain Government payments as well as sheriff or solicitor action,” he said.
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