The government is reported to be considering the possibility of using utility bills to track down the 1.2 million homeowners who have not yet paid the €100 household charge.
With the deadline for payment of March 31st looming ever larger, just under 400,000 people have registered for the controversial payment – which will be replaced in the coming years with a full-blown property tax.
It was reported recently that the government has held discussions with the data protection commissioner to alleviate the problems that will be caused by what seems like an inevitable mass boycott of the charge.
To date just under €40 million has been brought in from a charge that was expected to raise €160 million and now a plan B is being sought even before the deadline for payments has been reached.
It is now understood that personal information held by the likes of the ESB, the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social Protection and local authorities will be used to identify people who have not paid the charge by March 31st. Speculation is also rife that local authority workers will be asked to go door to door to collect the charge.
Despite data protection commissioner Billy Hawkes expressing concern at the government accessing personal information at the start of the year, the Sunday Times reported recently that an agreement is close to being reached to allow the government to track down those avoiding payment of the €100 fee.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has already warned that local authority services will suffer if the €160 million budgeted for was not raised.
Mr Hogan also ruled out an extension of the deadline for payment.
The latest news comes just days after the Mandate Trade Union called on the government to withdraw the charge in favour of a “fair and progressive property tax”.