€20m bonus for councils from tax on second homes
DUBLIN'S local authorities have raked in about €20m in extra cash from owners of multiple properties.
The Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) levy of €200-a-year on holiday homes and investment properties was a financial boost for the councils at a time of dwindling revenues.
Dublin City Council, the country's largest local authority, received €11.5m from the tax during 2011. It means 57,500 payments of €200 were made.
Fingal County Council received income of €3.6m from the charge, which was introduced by former finance minister Brian Lenihan in 2009.
South Dublin County Council earned revenues of €2.21m.
While a figure was not provided by Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, it is believed the amount is in the region of €3m-€4m, pushing the overall earnings in the capital to a little over €20m.
It is understood the income has increased on previous years, indicating a greater degree of compliance.
Fingal, South Dublin and City officials said the sums were not ring-fenced.
A Fingal spokeswoman said the money forms part of the council's overall revenue budgeted income which funds a range of services throughout the county.
South Dublin told the Herald the NPPR charge funds a range of council activities.
These include the library service, the maintenance of parks and the provision of community grants and support for the Civic Theatre.
In addition, the levy is used to finance county arts programmes, footpath repairs and maintenance, the provision and replacement of street lights, a school warden service, the operation of the burial grounds and the fire service.
A similar situation pertains in the city area.
The Department of the Environment admitted in October that resources were not available to go after property owners dodging the charge.
It said it would be too costly for local authorities to undertake the exercise.
Councils were put in charge of collecting the NPPR tax following its introduction in 2009.
Local authorities nationwide earned more than €68m from the NPPR charges last year and €62m in 2009.
The charge is paid in the council area where the property is located, rather than where the owner is living.
In Wexford, where many Dubliners have holiday homes, the council expects to take in €2.7m from the NPPR in 2012.
In December's Budget, Environment Minister Phil Hogan announced the levy is to go from €200 to €210 if payment is made over the counter rather than online.
The hike was slammed by Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins.
Mr Hogan implemented the increase as the numbers using the online system had fallen from 85pc two years ago to 59pc at the end of last year.