Property tax becomes a reality as Mayo homeowners receive official letters

The Government’s controversial property tax became a reality this week as homeowners across Mayo began receiving letters detailing information about the tax, how to value their property and calculate the amount of tax they owe, and how to pay. But it is estimated that it could take up to four weeks for all the letters to be issued.

The tax is a self-evaluation tax and despite the launch of a number of online calculators, it is up to the homeowner to supply an accurate house evaluation.

Auctioneers and valuers across the county are scrambling for business to provide homeowners with the most accurate evaluation possible given the turmoil the housing market has been in for the past number of years, and they believe they are best placed to give an educated evaluation.

However, there are two online calculators which homeowners can initially use and depending on whether they agree with the result or not local auctioneers are probably the next place people will turn to. Daft.ie has launched its own Local Property Tax calculator designed for users to input more information than the Government’s own Revenue.ie calculator. The Daft.ie calculator provides for the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a house and whether the property has a garden. According to Daft.ie Economist Ronan Lyons their calculator is more specific than the Revenue Commissioner’s one but he warned that the outcome should only be taken as an indication. The Revenue.ie calculator was launched last Sunday but has been criticised for lacking detail.

It has emerged this week that four out of every five euro collected in property taxes will be kept in the area where it is collected. This means that the remaining 20 per cent will go to a central fund to be spread out across all local authorities.

The move came after Dublin-based backbenchers complained that their constituents would be paying tax to subsidise councils all over the country and means that Dublin will now benefit the greatest from this new tax. Earlier the Government had committed to keeping 65 per cent of the tax collected in the local area but this jump to 80 per cent is designed to ease complaints from Dublin-based politicians and homeowners who have said that because their house values are higher they will be paying more to subsidise services in rural areas.

Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has reiterated his strong opposition to the Government’s property tax plans, saying families in mortgage difficulty simply cannot afford to pay hundreds of euro in extra taxes on their home.

“It is deeply unfair to expect homeowners, who cannot afford their home as it is, to pay hundreds of euro extra tax on that home. These are people who have already paid significant stamp duty, are now deep in negative equity and are struggling to pay their mortgages and household bills,” said Deputy Calleary.

The latest mortgage arrears figures out this week show that one in every four mortgages is in difficulty.

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