An embarrassing climbdown on property tax payment deadlines was signalled by the Government last night after Revenue letters sparked mass confusion.
As one senior minister admitted that even he was confused as to why tax chiefs demanded 2014 payments now, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore increased pressure on the Revenue Commissioners by insisting that they consider pushing back the debit/credit card full-year payment deadline beyond the end of this month.
“I think the Tánaiste is of the view that Revenue should give some thought to the possibility of deferring the deadline for those who want to make single payments by debit or credit card,” a spokesman for Mr Gilmore said last night.
Mr Gilmore was referring to the Nov 27 online deadline for those who want to pay their property tax in full by credit or debit card.
If that option is chosen, the payment is immediately taken, meaning those homeowners are forking out four months ahead of the Mar 21 deadline for those opting for single direct debit payment.
It now appears likely that hard-pressed households will be able to defer their once-off payment until after Christmas.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he was confused by the Revenue letter and unable to explain it.
“I am a little bit confused as to what exactly the Revenue Commissioners are saying,” said Mr Varadkar.
“I have had a lot of calls to my constituency office about the issue of the property tax and people are asking me why do they have to pay this year for a tax that doesn’t fall due until next year, and I can’t give them a satisfactory explanation to that, and I have been in contact with the Revenue and they haven’t given me a good answer either.”
Mr Varadkar said the view was that if a tax falls in 2014, it should be paid in 2014.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, would not be drawn on the issue but reiterated that no homeowner in the country is obliged to pay theirproperty tax this year.
The start of the first full year of the property tax in 2014 will effectively mean the tax doubles for 1.6m households in January as only the last six months of this year were covered by demands. This means the average home faces a bill of some €300 for next year’s property tax.
The Government has banked on raking in €500m from the tax next year — if everybody pays up.
More than 20,000 homeowners have filed their property tax return for 2014 ahead of the Nov 7 deadline for written submissions.
People using online methods were told they had until Nov 27 to get instructions in to the Revenue.
Waivers are in place for some sections of society.
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