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Revenue get power to enter homes in war on tax dodgers

REVENUE will have the power to enter and inspect homes if they believe the owner is trying to dodge property tax.

Officials can apply for a warrant to ensure property tax compliance is just one of the many powers the Revenue Commissioners will be able to draw on to ensure everyone pays.

Property tax dodgers also face fines of €3,000 for deliberately failing to fill in forms properly or undervaluing their house, under tough new legislation.

The new law to back up the new property tax, the Local Property Tax Bill, 2012, which was published yesterday, gives Revenue new powers.

The bill says Revenue will have the power to "enter on land and inspect the relevant residential property" to assess its value.

"The section obliges the person occupying the property to allow the authorised person inspect the property at all reasonable times," it says.

"The Revenue Commissioners may provide the authorised person with information that is necessary to value the property," the legislation says.



The law also imposes a maximum fine of €3,000 on a homeowner who "fails to submit a return or fails to include all required information", having been told to do so.

When told by Revenue to provide information on who owns a house, anyone who does not comply will be hit with a daily fine of €100.

PAYE workers who fail to pay will be tracked through their work payroll, while those who are self employed could find it impossible to continue in business if they do not comply.

Defaulters could also face interest payments that will accumulate daily at the equivalent of 8pc per year, a penalty of up to €3,000 and a 10pc surcharge on income or corporation tax. Payment may be pursued through attachment of bank accounts and deductions from State payments.

Evaders may also be tracked through power or phone providers, the HSE or the Private Residential Tenancies Board.

Cora O'Brien, policy director with the Irish Tax Institute, said Revenue would be likely to hold fire initially, placing more emphasis on getting people to pay.

"They have a lot of power available to them, but how they treat that is going to evolve, depending on what sectors of people have not filed, " she said.

Next Monday, Revenue will start sending letters to about 1.6m households. The first payments will be demanded in May.

The Revenue letters will provide an initial estimate of the value of each property but homeowners will still have the right to self-assess.