Homeowners to be hit with new €300 tax a year
HOMEOWNERS are to be hit with a property tax of up to €300 next year -- 12 months earlier than expected.
The Government is to fast-track plans to introduce the permanent tax which will apply to every household in the country.
It has emerged today that Environment Minister Phil Hogan is forging ahead with the controversial levy a full year earlier than previously anticipated.
Mr Hogan is set to target an average of €200-€300 from every household in the State -- regardless of what the house is worth. The news comes despite the Government facing a nightmare scenario as just 15pc of households have signed up for the €100 household charge -- 12 days before deadline.
The Environment Minister is set to get tough with those refusing to pay the charge and may hunt down dodgers by using their ESB bills.
Department officials were this week devising how to significantly increase the numbers paying the charge.
The Government has become increasingly worried over the disastrous take up so far with opponents of the charge already claiming victory. With the March 31 deadline fast approaching, just 250,000 have handed over the €100 sum. A staggering 110,000 households would have to register every single day for the €160m to be collected.
Any late surge would prove to be a technical nightmare for those processing online payments.
It has now emerged that the Department may advise all local authorities to instigate court proceedings against those who refuse to pay.
The Government feels large- scale court cases would generate huge media attention and may prove embarrassing for those dodging the charge.
Those who do sign up will face a late payment fee of €10 after six months, €20 between six and 12 months and €30 if the €100 is not paid by March of next year. However. councils will also have the power to take prosecutions against homeowners who refuse to pay the charge.
Mr Hogan may now resort to desperate measures -- such as seizing funds through utility and ESB bills -- a move would cause widespread consternation.
In a text message to supporters this weekend, People Before Profit TD Joan Collins said the Government was facing the "biggest boycott in the history of this country".
"It will be a powerful message to Phil Hogan and this Government of 1,000 cuts," she wrote.
However, despite the disastrous payment record surrounding the household charge, plans are already afoot to bring in a full blown property tax by 2013.
The new system will be self-assessed and will be based on the value of an owner's 'site' rather than their home.
This means that the tax will be based on the actual site of one's home, rather than the bricks and mortar.
It is estimated that the average three bed semi-detached home will be hit with an annual charge of €200-€300.
It is not yet clear what exceptions will be made for low income families.
However, it is understood that Government officials are looking at a national waiver system.
Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes today said that the Government is completely entitled to seize details from utility bills like the ESB.