Thursday, 13 June 2019

Questions (56)

Michael Healy-Rae


56. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if an anomaly (details supplied) relating to the payment of the local property tax will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24660/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Revenue provides a range of payment and phased payment options that allow property owners to meet their Local Property Tax (LPT) obligations in a manner that best suits individual circumstances. One of the available phased payment options is Deduction at Source (DAS) from various payment schemes operated by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).

These schemes are suitable for DAS as they are paid on a regular (weekly) basis over the course of the year. This allows recipients pay their LPT liabilities in even amounts over a fifty (50) week period, thereby reducing the financial burden to the greatest extent possible. However, section 189 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 provides that any DAS amounts cannot reduce the personal DEASP rate of payment below €201 per week. Consequently, LPT deductions cannot be applied if they reduce the recipients net payment below this legal ‘de-minimus’ threshold and Revenue has no discretion to operate outside of this position.

For situations where DAS is not possible, Revenue provides a number of payment alternatives. For example, property owners can select a single (annual) debit, a monthly direct debit or can make regular payments through one of three approved payment service providers (An Post, Payzone and Omnivend). These options are provided by commercial entities who charge on a per-transaction basis and Revenue has no role in determining the level of cost imposed. 

I am advised by Revenue that the person in question met her LPT liabilities through DAS from her DEASP payment until February 2015. The arrangement was discontinued after that date because the deduction reduced her net payment below the ‘de-minimus’ threshold. On confirmation of the situation from DEASP, Revenue made a number of attempts to contact the person to discuss possible alternatives but received no responses. In the absence of any contact, Revenue ‘deferred’ the person’s liability on the basis of her income threshold in accordance with sections 131 and 132 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended).

Deferral is not an exemption and the unpaid charge remains on the property and accumulates interest at a rate of 4% per year. The deferred amount also attaches to the property as a charge that must be paid before any sale or transfer can take place.

Revenue is aware that payment of the outstanding amount could cause financial difficulties for the person, assuming she does not wish to continue on the deferral option. For this reason, Revenue has confirmed that it is willing to work with her to agree a mutually satisfactory arrangement. To advance matters, the person should contact Revenue at telephone number 065 6849081.