Demands by the Labour Party to change the timeline for property tax payments are set to be rejected by Finance Minister Michael Noonan when the issue is discussed at Cabinet today.
The Government is expected to urge Revenue to explain the payment options more clearly to the public and clear up confusion sparked by a letter sent to almost a million homeowners last week.
Mr Noonan met with the Revenue chairwoman, Josephine Feehily, last night to discuss the controversy.
Households were asked to select their payment methods by Nov 27 for the tax due in respect of 2014. Those choosing to pay by credit or debit card were told they must pay by this date.
Labour had sought a compromise whereby the date on which households must choose their payment method would be separated from the date it has to be paid. Party leader Eamon Gilmore called on Revenue to “reconsider the deadline”.
Mr Noonan is against any change of policy or telling the independent Revenue Commissioner what to do.
A spokesperson for Mr Noonan said there were seven methods for paying the tax and these were “solely a matter for the Revenue Commissioners”.
Fine Gael was also puzzled by the logic of Labour’s demands, which sources said amounted to writing an IOU to Revenue.
Mr Noonan said there were many methods to pay the charge and people were not legally obliged to do so until March. He signalled there would be no change to how credit card payments are made.
“If you book on an Aer Lingus or Ryanair flight today and you’re not flying until April, they will take the money immediately. That’s the way debit cards work, the deduction is made immediately,” he said.
Accepting there was confusion over the issue, he said: “I suppose the Revenue gave so many choices to people that people found if difficult to cope with the different choices.
“I understand the Revenue are ready, both by direct interview on the media and through their helplines, to give more clarification.”
Mr Noonan also sought assurances from Revenue that the tax would mostly be collected in 2014. He said the Government expects some payments to be made by the end of this year but “we want the bulk of the money to come in in 2014, because that’s the way we’ve done the budget”.
Ms Feehily will appear before the Oireachtas finance committee on Thursday.
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