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

Meanwhile, the Revenue Commissioners chairman is to be invited before the Oireachtas Finance Committee next week.

Joan Burton on The Week in Politics today
Joan Burton on The Week in Politics today
Image: Screengrab via RTÉ

TWO GOVERNMENT MINISTERS have insisted that no one has to pay the property tax for 2014 until next year, but have admitted that there has been confusion and there are cases where payment could be taken this year.

The comments from Joan Burton and Leo Varadkar come amid ongoing confusion caused by the issuing of letters by Revenue to hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country in recent weeks asking them to select their payment method for next year’s tax.

While most options will see the payment taken next year, either in one lump sum or on a phased basis, Social Protection Minister Burton admitted on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that there are issues in term of cheques and credit cards where the money will be taken out of people’s accounts now.

But she insisted “people don’t have to pay until next year,” adding that the simplest option is to have a direct debit mandate.

She said that the Revenue “have a lot of extra communication, to talk to people, to explain” saying she wants Revenue to explain to people what the options are for them in paying the tax.

She reiterated that people do not need to pay the property tax due for next year until next year.

“[It would be] a bit silly of people to pay their tax in advance unless they had a lot of cash,” she said.

Burton added: “The point is that the Revenue are making the payment arrangements for people… telling the people about the payment arrangements in advance, that’s appropriate for Revenue to do that, but nobody has to pay until 2014.”

Oireachtas committee invite

Burton denied that there is any Cabinet split on the issue.

Earlier on the Marian Finucane programme, the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the “average person would find it very confusing”.

But he also stressed that there are lots of options for paying the tax, most of which do not require payment until next year.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, has said that he will invite the chairman of the Revenue Commissioners, Josephine Feehily, before the committee this week “to deal with any ambiguities or concerns” about the property tax.

“The concerns that I have heard expressed by the public over the last couple of weeks are not an issue of compliancy, but an issue of a requirement for good customer services, in which people who wish to pay the tax want to make the payment when the payment falls due,” he said.

Earlier on The Week in Politics, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming criticised the government for refusing to allow enough time in the Dáil to debate the property tax legislation saying “the government is passing the buck to Revenue”.

“Revenue are doing the job they are required to do,” he said.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said that the property tax itself is wrong and is a “brutal imposition on ordinary people, already hard-pressed, at the behest of the Troika”.

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

More: Calls to delay 2014 property tax payments due next month

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Hugh O'Connell

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