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Postmasters 'mystified' that Household Charge cannot be paid at Post Office

The Department of the Environment has said it was not possible as a procurement process would have been needed, which would have delayed the forthcoming property tax.

Image: Images_of_Money via Flickr

AS THOUSANDS OF homeowners do not have access to online payment methods, postmasters in Ireland have called on the Department of the Environment to make arrangements for the Household Charge to be processed through Ireland’s 1,152 Post Offices.

“We are inundated with people coming in to the Post Offices who think they can pay the charge and are surprised that they can’t,” general secretary of the Irish Postmasters’ Union Brian McGann told TheJournal.ie.

“There is complete confusion and, given the low payment rates so far, it doesn’t make sense to turn people away with cash in their hands.”

The union has said it is “mystified” and “astonished” that the public cannot pay this charge over the counter, particularly because registration forms are available through the network.

“We are aware that An Post made direct representations to Minister Phil Hogan on this issue but nothing has happened. We call on the Minister to reconsider his decision so that people who wish to pay can do so in the Post Office where many of them already pay utility and other bills,” added McGann.

A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment said that current arrangements were put in place to keep administrative costs as low as possible so local authorities would gather as much of the €100 fee as possible.

“Having a third party collect the charge would have increased these costs and thereby reduced the monies available from household charges towards the provision of local services in our communities,” he said.

Likewise, to keep administration costs to a minimum, the Government’s aim was to promote online registration and payment as this is the most efficient and least cost means of registration and payment.

A third-party collection would have required a procurement process which would have delayed the EU/IMF requirement to have a property-based tax in place for 2012.

Currently, homeowners can register and pay the charge online or through their local authorities. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore caused more confusion in the Dáil earlier by stating that the charge could be paid at the Post Office. What he meant was, people could fill in the registration form, get a postal order and post the form to the Household Charge Bureau at P.O. Box 12168, Dublin 1.

The deadline for payment is 31 March. About 1.6 million households are liable for the charge but only about 300,000 have paid up so far.

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