'€500k sunshine tax on outdoor seating ludicrous', say restaurant owners
RESTAURANT owners have hit out at having to fork out almost €500,000 on a "sunshine tax".
The tax, as it's labelled by critics, amounts to annual fees issued to any restaurant, cafe or pub that uses outdoor seating at their business.
Dublin City Council has been criticised for collecting the money, while allegedly making a profit of more than €300,000.
However, the council has said the money is being used for the construction and upkeep of public pathways in Dublin.
According to the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), the 'tables and chairs' scheme only costs the council €150,000 a year to administer, while the council made a total of €451,619 from the scheme in 2014.
The organisation claims that the council therefore made a tidy profit of €301,619 - a figure which it says is "ludicrous".
The body met with officials of Dublin City Council last month, where they were informed of the figures. The current scheme for the licencing of street furniture has been in situ since 2005.
Not surprisingly, the city centre is the most expensive place to have outdoor seating, with the council collecting a massive €325,000 in the Dublin 2 area.
The local authority took in €70,000 in Dublin 1, €15,000 in Dublin 6, €9,000 in Dublin 8, while the northside area of Dublin 3 collected just €716.
The RAI also issued a survey of its members stating that the average annual rates bill ranges from €980 to €15,000.
The average business surveyed pays more than €15,000 on outdoor seating to the council. The cost of outdoor seating is broken down depending on the location of the businesses, which can fall in to "yellow zone" or "red zone" areas.
Despite the zones, the cost per rented space is approximately €200 to more than €500, while the cost per table is €125, with an annual licence fee of €100.
Adrian Cummins of the RAI said that the charges were "ludicrous".
He said that the inclusion of a fee for the number of tables as well as an annual licence fee meant that the council was engaging in "a double taxation measure".
"The local authority rates are already so high that these charges threaten to cripple a business that employs local people, uses local produce and is vital for local business," he said.
The RAI wants to see a reduction in the fees by "at least 70pc".
Dublin City Council said that it "fundamentally disagrees" with the RAI claiming that the fees were "ludicrous".
A spokesperson said the charges had not increased since their introduction and that they are "pitched at a level that facilitates the demand for outdoor dining and vibrant city atmosphere while acknowledging the business benefit to the retailer and the level of inconvenience to the pedestrian".
The council said that the fees were not a double taxation but simply a licence charge for the use of the public footpath for retail purposes.
"Dublin City Council is not in the business of making profits as alleged by the association but any income generated by the licence fee is reinvested in the roads and traffic infrastructure in the city," the spokesperson added.