Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan insists there will be no amnesty for shop and business owners who were unaware they were liable to pay the Non-Principal Private Residences (NPPR) charge.
Minister Hogan said, however, that individuals could approach their local authority’s manager to determine whether parts of their property are deemed habitable while he also agreed to allow them to repay penalties and fines in installments.
Mr Hogan was responding to a query from Senator John Kelly, who said there were thousands of small shops, businesses and pubs throughout the country whose owners were led to believe they were not liable for the second home property tax when it was introduced in 2009.
He said: “Since the recent debate on the household charge, many shop owners and small businesses have been asking questions, on foot of their uncertainty, as to whether they are liable for the €200 charge. When they made contact with the local authorities, they were told they do not owe €800 but as much as €2,200 because of the accumulation of interest and penalties. In most cases, the people affected are shopowners who have built a house in the country and who have paid the property charge on that house. All they are left with is unused overhead accommodation. I have no issue with cases where overhead accommodation has been converted to apartments and flats that are being rented out. One should be liable in that instance. In many cases, however, the premises are just disused accommodation. Naturally, it cannot be rateable property because most businesses are already stretched paying rates for the downstairs parts of the buildings.
“In most of these cases, access to the overhead accommodation is through the shop. How such a property can be considered a second property has me baffled. In many cases, most of the owners cannot afford to do up the properties to rent them,” he said.
The Roscommon-based senator asked that those who did not know they were liable to be given an amnesty, allowing councils to collect €800 rather than the €2,200 charge that many face as a result of fines and penalties.
However, Minister Hogan said he was not in a position to give an amnesty to anyone as the details of the charge had been well advertised. He did agree, however, to allow people to pay their penalties in installments and encouraged people to contact their local authorities with any further queries on the matter.