House tax crunch looms ... but just 13pc have paid up
ONLY 13pc of householders in the country have signed up to pay the controversial new household charge, with just three weeks until the deadline.
After March 31 penalties will kick in -- meaning that those who register late will have to pay extra.
But despite the threat of penalties, the numbers who have registered remains low.
The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) responsible for collecting the charge of €100 per household told the Herald that latest figures available show that 206,702 people out of 1.6 million have registered to pay the charge.
"This has raised €20,670,200 so far, with 80pc of those paying online and 20pc posting forms or paying through their local authority," an LGMA spokeswoman said.
While the numbers registering to pay is low, the Department of Environment says it is not causing concern and they are confident more will sign-up in the coming weeks.
"The pattern for the household charge is following the one when the Non Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge was introduced," said the department spokesman, referring to the €200 charge on second homes introduced by the Government in 2009.
The NPPR registration process followed a similar system to the household charge, where people registered themselves for payment.
But critics of the new household charge say there were much fewer people involved in the tax on second homes, and claim the numbers attending public meetings against the household charge are huge.
"In the last seven weeks 20,000 people have attended public meetings around the country. It is clear that there is growing opposition to this new tax," Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said. He is on the committee of the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes group.
"It is a much different issue than the NPPR because there were far fewer people involved in that. What we are seeing is a mass boycott, and from our view the number of people that take a stand against the household charge will be hugely significant," said Mr Higgins.
"Hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens who pay their taxes are resisting this for two main reasons.
"Firstly they have been the victims of three-and-a-half years of savage austerity and they feel they have no option but to fight back against this new tier of taxation, secondly, they want to make a clear statement to the Government," he added.
Mr Higgins also said that much of the anger is from people who have paid tens of thousands of euro in stamp duty in the past few years.
"They will be paying that for the next 30 years because they had to borrow it, and now they are angered at being told they will have to pay a new tax on the same home," he said.
The Department of Environment said an inter-departmental group has been set up to examine how the tax will apply in the future and that issues regarding previous payment of stamp duty and other issues would be taken into consideration.