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Revenue boss to face TDs questions amid criticism of Property Tax deadline

Josephine Feehily is expected to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee. It comes as retailers warn that the Revenue’s approach could have a serious effect on trade in the run-up to Christmas.

Revenue Chairperson Josephine Feehily
Revenue Chairperson Josephine Feehily
Image: Photocall Ireland

THE CHAIRMAN OF the Oireachtas Finance Committee says he hopes an appearance before the panel by Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily can be arranged for “as soon as this week”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the Labour deputy said arrangements would be made this morning, and he hoped to be able to confirm a date and time by the end of the day.

Josephine Feehily is being asked to appear to address criticism of the Revenue service’s handling of the issue.

It’s after letters were sent to almost a million householders in recent weeks informing them that those wishing to make next year’s Property Tax payment  in a lump sum by card would have to do so by the end of November.

Taxpayers who paid the 2013 half-year levy in a single lump sum payment were sent letters asking how they intend to make next year’s full-year payment.

Recipients were told to respond by 7 November if replying by post or 30 November if replying online. In either case, if people want to make payment by credit or debit they are required to make the payment immediately.

A number of other options, including those for phased monthly payments were also set out in the letter.

Ambiguity

Deputy Lynch said he was calling on Feehily to appear before TDs and senators to “deal with the ambiguity” surrounding the payment options presented.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Lynch said the issue was primarily one of  ”clarity and communications,” and that he hoped arrangements could be made to improve the Revenue’s customer service in the area.

“The issue here is that if people choose to pay as a lump sum that payment is actually coming out of their account before it’s actually due,” Lynch said.

“There are people who may wish to pay as a once-off payment for whatever reason, and the issue here is that that payment should be made when it’s due.”

Asked who was to blame for the confusion, Lynch said that if it was found the problem was on the Revenue’s side, then he hoped the service could address what was wrong, but added “if it’s a case of tweaking the legislation or looking at parts of it then it’s a job for Government”.

Warning

There have been claims from retailers that the issue could seriously hamper business in the run-up to Chirstmas.

According to CEO of Retail Excellence Ireland, David Fitzsimons:

“The Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily is fundamentally unaware of the damage being done by demanding payment of the 2014 Local Property Tax before Christmas.

“This is an act of gross incompetence and one which could potentially return the country to recession.

“The Government has done much to boost confidence and spending in the domestic economy and this intervention by the Revenue is incredulous.”

Speaking yesterday, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton admitted there were issues for people who wanted to pay their property tax in a lump sum by card, and said that Revenue would have to do “a lot of extra communication, to talk to people, to explain” the options available.

Read: Ministers admit property tax letter confusion, but insist no one has to pay until 2014

Read: Gilmore asks Revenue to ‘reconsider’ property tax deadline

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Daragh Brophy

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