Home tax defaulters face pay packet raid
HOMEOWNERS who refuse to cough up the €100 household charge may have the money taken straight from their salary or welfare payments, it was warned.
Coalition sources have revealed that the Department of the Environment has considered the prospect of deducting the charge and any outstanding fines directly from dole payments and salaries.
Enormous pressure is mounting on Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who is facing the prospect of the biggest single boycott in the State's history.
With just 11 days to go until deadline, campaigners against the charge claim up to one million households will refuse to register.
Anything on that scale will prove a major headache for Mr Hogan -- who has refused to budge on calls to extend the deadline.
The fiasco surrounding the charge sparked some tetchy remarks from backbench Fine Gael TDs this weekend, with Waterford Deputy John Deasy describing its collection as "shambolic".
However coalition sources have today admitted that Mr Hogan will be prepared to raid social welfare payments and pay packets if legislation allows.
The Government would need to amend the 2010 Fines Act, which would allow it to "deduct from source" any outstanding charges.
An informed source told the Herald: "People need to realise that once the laws are amended appropriately, there is nothing to stop the government deducting from source.
"[Minister] Hogan is not backing down here as he knows he's under pressure".
Around 1.2 million household have not yet registered for the charge, with the deadline looming on March 31.
However, those behind the charge say they still expect a last-minute surge of those registering to pay.
Paul McSweeney, Chief Executive of the Local Government Management Agency, said he is "confident" of strong numbers signing up between now and March 31.
"We have seen a 25pc increase, week on week, we expect that pattern will continue until the end of the month," he added.
People Before Profit TD Joan Collins told the Herald that talk of raiding welfare payments or salaries is nothing short of "scare tactics".
"If Phil Hogan thinks he will get support for any move of this kind, I'd warn him to think again. He's clearly under major pressure and realises he is facing up against the biggest single public action in the history of the State," she said.
"We are holding a mass demonstration at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. We can get this kicked into touch and I'd urge anybody who feels it is unfair not to pay it," she added.