I propose to take Questions Nos. 67, 71 and 72 together.
I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a key aspect of the work they have undertaken in connection with Local Property Tax (LPT) has been the development of a register of residential properties in the State, which is the cornerstone of the new tax. The Register was developed using data drawn from a range of sources including Revenue’s own databases (which includes details from the Non-Principal Private Residence Charge database), the Local Government Management Agency database, and data from utility companies. This register has been used to issue correspondence to property owners and, by 16 April 2013, Revenue had issued 1.29 million letters to owners of 1.6 million properties.
It is expected that letters will issue this week to owners of approximately 35,000 properties. Given the scale of the task involved and the multiple sources that have been used to create the register, I understand the Revenue Commissioners are continuing to update it with new cases as they come to light and letters will continue to issue to newly identified property owners as a result. This may include a certain number of non-resident liable persons. I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, according to the LPT Register, there are about 154,000 owners of multiple properties who are liable to pay the tax on approximately 470,000 properties.
The Commissioners can confirm that 4,381 letters have issued to individuals who are described on Revenue’s records as non-residents. According to the LPT Register, these individuals own 7,736 residential properties in the State. Revenue also advises that included in the 1.29 million letters that have issued to date are letters to two further categories of property owner that are potentially non-resident. A number of letters have issued to foreign addresses and Revenue is aware that letters will have issued to an Irish address where the person who owns the property is residing outside the State, because Revenue would not be aware in the normal course of a change of residence. It is not possible to provide any definitive numbers in respect of these categories of property owners until LPT Returns have been filed and the necessary analysis has been completed. The Commissioners advise that a number of non-residents have already engaged with the process and fully met their obligations.
The Commissioners also advise that where an owner is not on Revenue’s register a Return will not issue. However, such owners are still obliged to complete and file an LPT Return by the relevant deadline – 7 May for paper filers and 28 May for electronic filers. As part of its media campaign this week Revenue is advising property owners that, if they have not yet received an LPT Return from Revenue, they should request a paper form by contacting Revenue’s LPT Helpline or accessing the on-line system on Revenue’s website to file their LPT Return on-line. I am also advised that even where a property owner has not received a Property ID and PIN code from Revenue, they will still be able to file their Return online.
Every effort is being made to ensure that non-resident owners of residential properties in the State are aware of their obligations with regard to LPT. Revenue is engaging in a public communications campaign and a substantial amount of information on the tax has been published on the Revenue website. This information is being updated regularly and is accessible from abroad. Non-resident owners have full access to the online filing system for LPT and can contact the LPT Helpline through a dedicated line for callers outside the State at +353 1 7023049, if they have any queries or require assistance with filing their Returns on-line. I understand that, to date, 6,131 phone calls have come through this telephone number.
As part of the general issue of LPT Returns, property owners also receive a Notice of Estimate of LPT. This is the amount of LPT that will be pursued by Revenue, in accordance with the LPT legislation, if the resident or non-resident owner does not complete and submit their LPT Return.
The compliance strategies for non-resident property owners will vary depending on whether the property is let and whether there is a letting agent, etc. The legislation provides that Revenue may require anybody acting as an agent in relation to a letting or who receives rent provide details on request in relation to the property. A tenant may also be required to give the relevant details. I am further advised that the normal compliance and debt recovery provisions apply to LPT as apply to the collection and recovery of other taxes and duties under the care and management of the Revenue Commissioners. This includes the attachment of rent payable. An additional mechanism that Revenue can invoke in the case of residents of countries with which Ireland has a double taxation convention is the exchange of information provisions which would assist with profiling, and corresponding with, the individual involved.
Finally, as the Deputy will be aware, any unpaid LPT will attach to the residential property, and the resident or non-resident owner will not be able to sell or transfer the property without paying the LPT, along with interest and penalties due. I am advised by Revenue that their initial focus is on the completion of the Register, that it is clear that there is already a significant level of engagement with the tax, and that it is too early in the process to be specific on the strategies they will deploy to address compliance issues on the part of non-residents.