Revenue reveals it uses Google Maps to value houses for local property tax

The chairman of the Revenue Commission has revealed that it uses Google Maps to help establish the value of houses for the purposes of calculating the Local Property Tax (LPT).

Revenue reveals it uses Google Maps to value houses for local property tax

Niall Cody told the Public Accounts Committee that Revenue can use the software to investigate instances where a property’s reported value is in a different tax band to houses on the same street.

“Our LPT register has effectively been mapped on a map of the country. Properties are geocoded,” Mr Cody explained, adding that Revenue officials can look at Google maps on its system.

“We were looking at an area in South Dublin where there was one property that was, we’ll say, six bands below the street. Then you can focus in and you found it was a mews house in the back garden of one of the houses, totally out of proportion with all the rest of them and perfectly reasonable,” he said.

Mr Cody also said that there has been a high level of LPT compliance.

“Since assuming the responsibility for administration of Local Property Tax in early 2013, Revenue has collected in excess of €1bn for the exchequer, including €45m in respect of household charge and achieved compliance rates of 97% for both 2013 and 2014. The compliance rate for 2015 currently stands at 96%,” he said.

Revenue has deducted payments from salaries and pensions in 140,000 cases and has issued 600,000 warning letters in respect of the LPT since 2013, Mr Cody said.

Tax clearance certification was denied in 29,000 cases and 1,000 cases were referred to the Sheriff, he said.

The Public Accounts Committee heard that the establishment of the LPT was a significant undertaking for Revenue at a time when its resources were diminishing in terms of staff numbers and administrative budget.

“Within a timeframe of less than nine months Revenue had to design, build and implement a fully functioning tax system.

“We had to assist in the drafting of legislation, build a property register, develop flexible payment options to suit different customer preferences and deploy resources to the provision of a customer support service,” he said.

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