Dáil Questions: Pyrite and Property Tax Exemptions

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Dáil Issues, Economy, Oral Questions

To ask the Minister for Finance the reason residents are being contacted by the Revenue Commissioners in a very curt and inappropriate manner (details supplied), while trying to access their lawful entitlement to an exemption from the Local Property Tax; if he will instruct the Revenue Commissioners to desist from these communications and from deductions at source, in view of the fact he is on the record as saying that his Department is striving to rectify the problem, which is not of the homeowner’s creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.    

Clare Daly.

REPLY.

I have initiated a review of the operation of the LPT. The Review will primarily have regard to recent residential property price developments, the overall yield from LPT and the desirability of achieving relative stability in LPT payments. It will also address a number of issues which have arisen in relation to the efficient and effective administration of the LPT, among which is likely to be the matter of the operation of the pyrite exemption provisions. It is intended that the outcome of the Review will be presented to me no later than summer 2015.

Resolution of this matter may necessitate a change in the relevant provisions of the LPT legislation and/or the Pyrite Regulations. If so, I am examining with the Revenue Commissioners the possibilities for applying any changes on an administrative basis, in advance of such legislative changes.

It is important that any such changes do not go beyond the objectives of providing a temporary exemption for homes with “significant pyritic damage” only.

Pending any decisions in relation to the statutory provisions, Revenue has an obligation to act in accordance with section 10A of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 (as amended) which requires that an LPT exemption can only apply where the residential property has been assessed and a certificate confirming “significant pyritic damage” has been issued. This is the only type of certificate that is relevant and a homeowner cannot claim the exemption until it has been issued. Furthermore, the administration of LPT is a matter for Revenue. The Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 put the independence of the Revenue Commissioners in the performance of their functions on a fully statutory basis. It would not be appropriate for me to instruct Revenue in such circumstances. However, in regard to the specific case mentioned by the Deputy, Revenue has confirmed to me that no compliance action has yet started in respect of the outstanding amounts due to ongoing discussions between the LPT team and the person in question.

LPT operates on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for the property owner in the first instance, to calculate the tax due based on his or her assessment of the market value of the property. Issues such as the presence of pyrite would be one of the factors that a property owner should take into account in valuing their property.