House tax due at end of month [updated]

There appears to be a good deal of confusion and lack of awareness of the terms of the annual non principal private residence (NPPR) charge, introduced in the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 and colloquially [but erroneously] known as the second house tax. If you’re liable to the tax, you should ensure payment by 31 October 2009 or you will incur €20/month in late payment fees and could delay a sale of the property.

Anyone in doubt as to whether they are subject to the charge should check the official set of frequently asked questions, available here. If that doesn’t help or you need further confirmation, contact your local county council and ask them directly.

While the tax this year is only €200, the consequences of non-payment could be relatively serious, ranging from the monthly late payment fee to the possibility of a prosecution. Many people are not yet aware that any unpaid charge and late payment fees accrued will also be a legal charge against the property, which could cause unnecessary delays or difficulties in selling the property at a later date.

Two common exemptions from the tax are:

  • where an individual owns two houses only for a brief period (i.e. when moving home); and
  • where the second property is a rent-free ”granny flat’ or accommodation for a family member nearby (the tax is not payable in respect of a dwelling occupied by a relative if it is provided rent free and is located no more than 2 kms from the residence of the owner).

If availing of an exemption, you should confirm with your local county council that the exemption is available and they may require you to write to them. County councils will not be investigating each dwelling in the country but could, at a later date, ask for documentary evidence to back up claims to an exemption (e.g. correspondence to the person living in the ‘granny flat’ to demonstrate that (s)he actually lived there).

The online payment system at www.nppr.ie is the simplest way of making the payment, but it can be done in post also.

Note: The “liability date”, on which it is determined whether a property owner is liable to pay the tax is 31 July 2009, with two months to pay, i.e. 30th September 2009). However, a ‘grace period’ of one month has been allowed for this year, giving taxpayers until 31 October 2009 to pay.

UPDATE: I have changed the title of this post to reflect the fact that the tax applies not only to “second houses”, but also to any house which is not a principal private residence. Therefore, you could own just one house and still be subject to the tax if not resident in it. This has been a source of tremendous confusion and controversy in recent weeks. You should check the NPPR website or call your local authority if unsure.

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