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Up to 50% of property tax valuations ‘may be wrong’

The estimated house values designed to guide intending property-tax payers on how much they owe could lead to more confusion than clarity.

The mapping facility on which the Revenue Commissioners have based the estimates dropping through letterboxes from this week went live on their website yesterday afternoon.

The figures are based on the average values of properties in 3,400 electoral areas, based on house type and whether they were built before or after 2000.

Last week, Revenue chair Josephine Feehily said they expect between 20% and 25% of estimates would undervalue a property and a similar proportion will overvalue homes.

However, there is a €90 difference in the amount due between each consecutive house value banding, with €405 due next year on a home worth €200,000 to €250,000, but €495 due on a house worth €250,000 to €300,000.

A quick look through the valuation guidance map suggests that the Revenue’s prediction that 40% to 50% of estimated values could be wrong may be accurate.

For example, in the Mount Oval development in Rochestown outside Cork last year, 26 homes sold for between €105,000 and €565,000, according to the price register of the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

However, the estate falls within an electoral area where the Revenue guidance suggests most homes built after 2000 are valued between €150,000 and €200,000 (liable for €315 property tax), with detached houses guided at up to €250,000.

The same Douglas electoral area for which these valuation bandings are suggested covers a wide area of mixed urban and rural, from Cork Airport east almost as far as Monkstown, and from the edge of Carrigaline into the heart of Douglas .

In Dublin, two homes on Irishtown Rd sold for €290,000 and €130,000 in Jun 2011 and Jun 2012 respectively. Both are outside the range of most categories of pre-2000 houses in the Pembroke East A electoral area that the street is in.

Most homes in the area are estimated by Revenue to be in the €200,000 to €250,000 category, except semi-detached houses, which are valued in the next-highest price range.

A stone’s throwaway, nine homes on Tritonville Rd in Sandymount sold last year, fetching between €350,000 and €1.2m. This address is in a neighbouring electoral area, where Revenue suggests €400,000 (€765 property tax) to €650,000 (€1,125 property tax) is the guide value. A nearby Gilford Rd home sold in November for €180,000 and should be liable for just €315 property tax.

The Revenue website tells homeowners to make their own assessment if they feel the Revenue guidance is not indicating a reasonable valuation for their property.

"Where the Revenue guidance is used in an honest manner and you make a reasonable assessment of the valuation of your property it will not be challenged by Revenue," it said.

The Irish Examiner’s assessment of the valuation guidance map yesterday, unscientific as it may be, suggests that those planning to pay the tax should rely on their own judgment, not the Revenue’s estimates.

They would be far better guided by the PSRA’s property price website, which allows users see recent sale prices on each street or townland rather than the much wider electoral areas chosen by the taxman.

*Find the Revenue valuation guidance map at revenue.ie. The PSRA’s price register can be found at propertypriceregister.ie.