Around one million people have still to pay the new local property tax and already rumours are spreading that the charge could be set to rise next year.
Figures released yesterday by the Revenue Commissioners show that to date 637,466 homeowners have made an LPT return.
The remainder of the 1.6 million homeowners liable for the charge have until May 28th to make their payment online.
However, it will be deeply troubling for all those expected to pay to read headlines in today’s newspapers suggesting that the property tax could rise by up to 15% from 2015.
Fianna Fáil claimed yesterday that the government was planning to increase the tax after next year’s local elections and although the Department of Environment has tried to play down the situation, their response wasn’t exactly a denial.
Rather than saying this wouldn’t happen, they insisted that they had never made any secret of the fact that local authorities have been given the power to increase or reduce property tax by up to 15% from 2015.
The likelihood of a reduction is unlikely but with local authorities struggling to make even the most basic of road repairs, they could be tempted to put it up. If one local authority makes a move, the chances are others will follow.
This could prove hugely controversial though, with people currently filing their returns having already budgeted for what the tax will cost them between now and 2016.
The clause allowing local authorities to ramp up charges might have been reported on earlier this year but it was never headline news so Fianna Fáil’s latest claims will be a surprise to many.
Most worryingly though is the timing of the clause, with local authorities having until September 2014 to instruct the Department of their plans to increase (or decrease) the charge for 2015.
That means that the local elections will be over and regardless of what parties make up the local authorities at that stage, councillors will be safe in the knowledge that their seats are safe for another five years and it is unlikely that many of them would have much qualms in putting up the property tax rate.
Today we’d like to hear your opinions on the matter…
- Did you know that your local authority could apply for an increase of the tax as early as next year?
- Is it worrying that they might do this so soon after a local election?
- Could you afford an additional 15% on your property tax bill, on top of what you’re already going to be paying by then?
- Are Fianna Fáil just using scare tactics to try and win back voters?