Campaigners vow to fight property tax collection

Campaigners against the property tax have vowed to fight plans by Revenue to collect the levy, despite the revelation that tax collectors will value homes of owners liable for the charge.

Estimates of how much a property is worth, and what owners should then pay for the new tax, will be sent to owners in March, the Revenue Commissioners confirmed yesterday. The levy will be introduced in July.

The Socialist Party said the move to assess property values would cause chaos, while Fianna Fáil claimed the Revenue’s role would only add to the concerns of householders.

But the Revenue Commissioners stated that any initial estimate it provided could be displaced by one provided by the owner.

The agency will have the power to deduct its estimate of the tax at source of payments if owners fail to provide their own valuation.

A statement read: “Where the liable person does not submit a return, the Revenue estimate will become payable by default and Revenue will collect the amount due in the normal ways — by deduction at source, attachment orders, etc... The estimate will automatically be displaced on submission of the return containing the self-assessed amount.”

The deadline for submitting a property tax return on paper is May 7, and May 28 for online returns.

In the return, liable persons will include their assessment of the market value band of their property, claim a payment deferral where eligible, and elect a specified payment method.

A booklet explaining the charge will be sent out with valuations of properties.

“A detailed explanatory booklet on the operation of the local property tax, valuation procedures, and payments methods, as well as a local property tax return form for completion, will be sent to residential property owners in March,” said the statement. “If you follow Revenue’s guidance honestly we will accept your property value assessment.”

Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins said Revenue’s role in valuation of properties would lead to confusion.

He argued that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would still refuse to pay the tax, and that Revenue would be forced to bring them before the courts.

“How the hell are they going to do it [estimate the value]? They don’t have that information,” said Mr Higgins. “It’s a recipe for complete chaos. How do they know the value of my property, or that of my neighbour’s house?

“Obviously, the Government are banking on trying to strike fear into people. Hundreds of thousands of people will boycott this charge.”

Campaigners against the property tax will hold a major meeting this Saturday at the Red Cow in Dublin, where plans to oppose the levy will be discussed.

Fianna Fáil said a “drip-feed of information” on the valuation and collection of property taxes was adding to the distress of homeowners.

“Reports that the value of homes will be dictated by the Revenue Commissioners and that self-assessment could lead to challenges from the taxman only add to the concerns of householders, and raise even more questions about the Government’s property tax plan,” said the party’s Seanad leader, Darragh O’Brien.

Revenue said it will develop a register of properties using its own data and information from agencies such as the Local Government Management Agency, the Private Residential Tenancies Board, and utility providers.

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