Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (356)

Robert Troy

Question:

356. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he will amend the Valuations Act to ensure that the calculation of rates will be done in a fairer and more equitable manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8052/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The Government published the Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2012 on 3rd August, 2012 as part of its legislative programme. The Bill proceeded through its second stage in Seanad Éireann on 11th October 2012. I wish to advise the Deputy that officials in my Department are currently engaging with a wide range of stakeholders and other interested parties and I will be considering potential amendments which may be introduced at Committee Stage in the very near future. However, it is not possible for me to advise the Deputy as to the likely date for enactment of the Bill, as this depends on a number of factors which are outside my control, including the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas.

At the outset, let me say that the Bill will not change the basis of valuation for rating purposes. This will continue to be “net annual value” which is the hypothetical rental value of a property as assessed by reference to a specified date. This is a long standing principle of the rateable valuation system in Ireland and ensures equity and fairness in relation to the values of commercial and industrial properties across a local authority area.

The primary purpose of the Bill is to accelerate the national programme of revaluing every commercial and industrial property in the country which is being undertaken by the Valuation Office. The Bill amends several provisions contained in the Valuation Act 2001. These amendments include a number of technical changes to Part 5 of the 2001 Act which deals with how valuations, including revaluation of entire rating authority areas, are carried out. The Bill also proposes to amend Part 6, which deals with the carrying out of revisions of the rateable valuation of individual properties within rating authority areas between revaluations. In both instances, it is envisaged that the Commissioner of Valuation will appoint officers to carry out the tasks in question and the Bill makes specific provision for the appointment of “revision managers”. Section 6 of the Bill proposes to amend Section 19 of the Valuation Act 2001 by enabling the Commissioner to appoint persons to carry out the revaluation of entire rating authority areas. Such persons may be an officer of the Commissioner. However, provision is also made for the Commissioner to enter into an arrangement with a person or persons (other than officers of the Commissioner) to assist in the performance of the revaluation function. The effect of this provision is to enable the Commissioner to contract out some of the revaluation work, in order to augment the in-house capacity of the Valuation Office. This is one of the express provisions intended to assist the acceleration of the national revaluation programme. I understand that, following enactment of the Bill, the Commissioner intends running a pilot revaluation project which will utilise such external resources.

Following enactment of the Bill, it is envisaged that revaluation projects can be conducted through the normal direct assessment methodology. However, the Bill (Section 11, inserting a new Part 5A into the 2001 Act) also provides for the Commissioner to conduct a revaluation using elements of self-assessment by ratepayers. This provision is also intended to assist the acceleration of the national revaluation programme and I understand that, following enactment of the Bill, the Commissioner intends running a pilot project which will utilise self-assessment principles. Finally, I wish to draw the Deputy’s attention to Section 22 of the Bill which proposes to amend Section 48 of the 2001 Act by providing for the use of general market data or aggregated data (including statistical and computer-aided techniques) in determining valuations, where the Commissioner considers it appropriate to do so.