Property Taxation Application

Questions (48)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

48. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Wexford has had the liability for the household charge added to the local property tax liability for their properties; if they can make payments for 2014 via a payment service provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51051/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that Section 156 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) provides that where Household Charge (HC) for 2012 remains unpaid at 1 July 2013, the amount outstanding is increased to €200 and classified as arrears of Local Property Tax (LPT). All such arrears will be collected by Revenue in the same manner as LPT. Revenue has confirmed that the process of importing HC data from the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is currently well underway. A key part of the process involves integrating the LGMA records into Revenue’s new Property Register, and while a significant amount of data matching is complete a considerable number of properties are yet to be cross referenced and linked.

In relation to the case to which the Deputy refers, the person in question is the registered owner of two properties. While there is a HC payment on record for one of the properties, there is no record of any payment of HC in respect of the second property. For this reason an additional liability of €200 was added to the overall LPT/HC arrears charge in respect of the second property.

If the person has paid the HC in respect of the second property, he should submit documentary evidence of this to LPT Branch, PO BOX 100, Ennis, Co. Clare. Documentary evidence may be a receipt of payment or some other proof that payment was actually made. As soon as Revenue receives the documentary proof that payment of the HC was made, the LPT Property Register will be updated to reflect this fact. If the person has not yet paid the HC on the second property, he can do so via Revenue’s online system, which is the easiest and most secure way to complete the transaction and can be done in tandem with choosing his LPT payment option for 2014.

The Deputy’s comments are noted in regard to the person’s wish to pay his 2014 LPT/HC arrears (if applicable) liability through a payment service provider. However, Revenue has informed me that this option is not available to the person because he is a multiple property owner and as such is required to meet his LPT and HC arrears obligations online.

Revenue has confirmed that the person paid his 2013 LPT liability by Single Debit Authority through the online system. Should he wish to use this option for 2014 he should complete the online version of the mandate, which will not be activated by Revenue until 21 March 2014. Alternatively, he should select one of the other online payment options such as Direct Debit, Debit / Credit Card, or Deduction-at-Source from payroll, occupational pension, or payments from the Dept of Social Protection.

Revenue has committed to make direct contact with the person in the coming days to discuss the various options available to him in regard to both his 2014 LPT liability and his possible arrears of HC.

Property Taxation Administration

Questions (49)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

49. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason a local property tax letter was issued to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 for a property they do not own, despite this person alerting the Revenue Commissioners of this when paying their 2013 liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51054/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am informed by Revenue that a key aspect of the work it has undertaken in connection with the administration of Local Property Tax (LPT) has been the development of a register of residential properties in the State. The development of the Property Register required Revenue to extract and consolidate data from multiple Government and non-Government sources and unfortunately some incorrect records were added to the Register in a relatively small number of cases during the process. I am also advised that the introduction of LPT represented a huge administrative challenge for Revenue. For example, Revenue has answered in excess of 750,000 telephone calls and replied to in excess of 210,000 letters or emails since March 2013.

Unfortunately, in the case referred to by the Deputy, the correspondence received from the person in question in April 2013 was overlooked by the LPT team and as a consequence the required amendments to the Property Register were not completed. The Register has now been amended and the incorrect details have been removed. Contact will be made with the person in question to confirm that the details are now correct.

Property Taxation Administration

Questions (50)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

50. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason a local property tax letter was not issued to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who previously paid the LPT in cash; if this may be arranged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51055/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the vast majority of the 2014 Local Property Tax (LPT) payment notifications issued to taxpayers during October 2013. This included taxpayers who paid their 2013 liability in a single lump sum via a payment service provider. The exceptions in this regard were cases that contained data errors requiring clarifications to ensure the accuracy of the information held on the Property Register. In the case referred to by the Deputy, the 2013 LPT Return, which was filed by the person in question, contained some data errors and as a consequence the Return was listed for verification by LPT Branch. Because the outstanding issues were not finalised, no letter issued to the person in question in respect of 2014 at that time.

However, Revenue has confirmed that direct contact has since been made with the person by a member of the LPT team and the issue has been resolved to his satisfaction. The person’s preferred payment option of “payment service provider” has been input on the Property Register for 2014 and he is fully compliant in that regard.

Property Taxation Administration

Questions (51)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

51. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason a local property tax letter was not issued to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if this may be arranged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51056/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that letters to residential property owners regarding 2014 Local Property Tax (LPT) payment methods did not issue in some cases where there was a discrepancy in the property register. In the specific case mentioned by the Deputy, an error occurred when the 2013 LPT payment instructions were filed on-line on behalf of the liable owner. The individual who filed the return inadvertently replaced the liable owner’s name with their own name at the time of filing. This resulted in an unmatched property on the Property Register and therefore correspondence in respect of 2014 did not issue. I can confirm that Revenue is contacting the person concerned to clarify matters and to amend the property register as necessary.

Pensions Levy

Questions (52, 53)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

52. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the reason the pensions fund levy did not make a distinction between those members who were still paying into a scheme and therefore have an opportunity to increase payments into their fund and those who are not; if the levy could be amended in recognition of this distinction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51066/13]

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Brendan Ryan

Question:

53. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if retired pensioners and holders of personal retirement bonds could be exempt from the pensions fund levy in view of the fact that the levy is being imposed on funds they are no longer paying into; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51067/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.

An annual stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies in each of the four years from 2011 to 2014, to the market value on the valuation date (generally 30 June each year) of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legislation. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that this includes occupational pension schemes, Retirement Annuity Contracts, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts and Personal Retirement Bonds. The levy applies to pension fund assets regardless of whether they relate to active or deferred members of schemes, and to the extent that pensions in payment are being paid directly from a defined benefit pension scheme the assets backing those pensions also come within the levy charge.

The 0.6% levy was introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative and will be abolished from the 31st of December 2014. I indicated in my recent Budget speech, however, that I would be introducing an additional levy on pension funds, within the existing legal framework, at 0.15% in 2014 and 2015 to continue to help fund the Jobs Initiative and to make provision for potential State liabilities which may emerge from pre-existing or future pension fund difficulties.

I am further advised by the Commissioners that the levy is not imposed on individual pension scheme members whether active, deferred or retired. Rather the chargeable persons for the levy are the trustees or other persons (including insurance companies) with responsibility for the management of the assets of the pension schemes or plans. The payment of the levy is, however, treated as a necessary expense of a pension scheme and the trustees or insurer, as appropriate, are entitled, where they decide to do so, to adjust current or prospective benefits payable under a scheme to take account of the levy. It is up to the trustees to decide whether and how the levy should be passed on and who should be impacted and to what extent, given the particular circumstances of the pension schemes for which they are responsible.

There are very few exemptions from the levy and this, in part, explains why it was possible to introduce it at a relatively low rate of 0.6% in the first place and to keep the rate of the additional levy as low as 0.15%. Narrowing the base of the levy would inevitably result in a greater imposition on the non-exempt schemes and I am not prepared to consider such a change.

Pension Provisions

Questions (54)

Billy Timmins

Question:

54. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 14 November 2013, if the measures announced in the 2014 budget differentiate between public sector pensions and those in the private sector. [51079/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 20 November 2013. In that reply I gave information relating to the changes to the Standard Fund Threshold (SFT) regime announced in my 2014 Budget Statement and reflected in the recently published Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013. The changes to the SFT regime outlined in the reply referred to above apply, as appropriate, to all defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) pension arrangements in both the private and public sectors. As regards DB pension arrangements, it is irrelevant whether an individual is a higher paid public servant or a highly paid member of a private sector DB scheme, the same SFT rules apply to all such arrangements. The only area of difference relates to the reimbursement or recovery of chargeable excess tax by affected public servants to the pension fund administrator where the tax arises and is paid upfront by the administrator. This arises because, unlike affected individuals in the private sector who have the flexibility to take steps (and generally do) to prevent themselves breaching the SFT or Personal Fund Threshold (PFT) if they have one so that a tax charge does not arise, public servants cannot minimise or prevent the breaching of the SFT or PFT by ceasing contributions or benefit accrual.

Where the SFT or PFT is exceeded an immediate tax charge arises on the excess which can be significant. I should stress that this part of the legislation does not remove or reduce the tax liability arising on a chargeable excess in such cases but provides more flexible options for the recoupment to the pension fund administrator of the tax paid. These options involve effectively spreading the recovery of the tax, which has been paid upfront by the public sector pension administrator, from the affected individual over a longer period.