Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (183)

Pearse Doherty


183. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the payment options available to a person wishing to pay the local property tax with no current account and whose only income is jobseeker's benefit; and if he will consider allowing persons in such cases to pay by standing order, as it is the cheapest option. [31585/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Revenue does not use standing orders for tax payments because they do not facilitate the orderly collection of taxes for the Exchequer. For example, the customer sets the date of payment of a standing order. Where there are insufficient funds on the date payment is due, no payment will be made. Revenue will not be notified of any unpaid standing orders and would be obliged to check each month to ensure each standing order is paid, and to pursue each monthly payment with the taxpayer. Managing large amounts of standing orders creates significant reconciliation difficulties.

By contrast, direct debit gives greater certainty and facilitates the orderly collection of taxes while ensuring safeguards for customers. A direct debit requires the customer (the payer) to authorise Revenue (the payee) to take a payment. The customer can cancel the payment at any time. From an Exchequer point of view, if the payment goes unpaid, Revenue will be advised within five working days and will be able to pursue payment then. This is not possible with standing orders. In addition, with direct debits Revenue will always know the source of the payment and will be able to update the customer record electronically. It is not possible to manage standing orders in this fashion.

Accordingly, the option of paying LPT by standing order is not possible. Revenue has provided a very wide range of payment options ranging from debit/credit cards to phased arrangements, including payment via a range of service providers. It would not be reasonable for me to suggest that Revenue would move to a payment system which is riskier from the Exchequer's point of view and is less efficient in that it leads to administrative delays and costs.

By way of general comment, it is my understanding that it would be unusual for financial institutions to make standing orders available other than from current accounts and that the types of accounts which are suitable for standing orders would also usually be suitable for direct debit.

Finally, as I have previously informed the House, an individual whose only income is a Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment, such as jobseeker's benefit, will qualify for a deferral of LPT. Full details of all payment methods and deferral arrangements are available on Revenue's website www.revenue.ie.