Monday, July 4, 2011

Second-homes tax yield soars to €180m -

By Paul Melia

Saturday July 02 2011

THE State has taken in more than €180m in the second-home tax since it was introduced. This is €80m more than expected.

The Department of the Environment yesterday revealed that the owners of 320,000 investment properties and second homes have paid the annual €200 tax to local authorities, with almost one in five located in Dublin city.

The tax-take is far in excess of what was predicted. In 2009, when the Non-Principal Private Residence (NPPR) tax was introduced, the Government said it expected annual payments to amount to €40m if 200,000 owners paid.

New figures show that payments are averaging €68m a year -- or 70pc above expectations.

The tax was introduced in September 2009 and is payable to the local authority where the property is located. It is among a range of measures to help city and county councils raise income to fund essential services, instead of relying on exchequer funding.

A breakdown of the figures from the department shows:

?In 2009, the tax was paid on 323,365 properties, yielding €68.7m.

?The following year, €66.9m was paid on 320,766 houses and apartments.

?So far this year, €47.7m has been paid on 238,720 units.

?The total yield to date is €183.5m -- just €100m was expected to be collected when the tax was introduced.

A department spokesman said officials always suspected that more than 200,000 second homes would be subject to the tax.

"We initially expected €40m a year," he said. "There was a general acceptance that there was more properties out there than what we were saying, but we didn't realise how many there were."

Local authorities have been given extensive powers to make sure owners of holiday homes pay the tax. Councils can check utility bills to see if power is turned off during the winter -- suggesting that the premises are only used as summer residences. They can also examine the voter register and land registry records.

Department figures show that most second homes are in Dublin city, where 43,397 ( 18.18pc) are located. The capital is followed by Cork county (7.86pc), Fingal (4.87pc), Kerry (4.91pc) and Donegal (4.61pc).

The lowest number -- 1,683 (0.71pc) -- is in Monaghan. Also low on the list are Longford (0.83pc), Offaly (0.89pc), Laois (0.90pc) and Leitrim (1.01pc).

Owners can pay the charge electronically at the website, Those who refuse to pay face hefty fines, with a 10pc surcharge added every month.

This means that the first month that the charge is unpaid incurs a fine of €20 on top of the €200. A person who fails to pay the tax for one year will owe €200 for the levy, plus €240 in fines, giving a total of €440.

Failure to comply with the law can result in a fine of up to €2,000.

Owners of properties that are leased to local authority tenants under the Rental Accommodation Scheme are exempt from the tax.

- Paul Melia

Irish Independent

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