Personal Stories


I lived in my house in Dublin until 2001 when I moved abroad for my job and rented out my home. I never heard of NPPR except on radio a couple of times on visits - advertised as the 'second home' tax but since I have no second home in Ireland, I was certain it did not apply to me. I have made a tax return annually on my rental property and I also fully paid up for the recent household charge and local property tax.

Until August 2014, I received absolutely no correspondence despite being registered as a non-resident taxpayer with the Revenue. On 15 August 2014, a demand arrived in the post for 4,220 euro for NPPR prinicipal tax owed and the penalties that were accumulating silently. To say this was a shock and something I was not in a position to pay is an understatement. I corresponded with the County Council to no avail and appealed to them in writing, enclosing the full principal tax amount I owed on the house for the full years of NPPR. They returned my bank draft, demanding full payment of the penalties.

No other tax has ever had such a penalty that accumulates silently - and with no correspondence to the victim till the end?!

-Molly - Wicklow

I purchased my house in 2006 at the height of the market. Due to job commitments, I was relocated to Malaysia for 4 years from 2010. During this time I rented out my house to help pay with the mortgage. I had an estate agent looking after the house and a tax agent looking after my tax affairs, hoping I would have all my bases covered. Both knew my personal circumstances. While before I left I was aware of a ‘second home’ tax - I had absolutely no knowledge of the subtly different ‘Non Principal Private Residence’ tax. Neither did my estate agent or tax agent apparently, as both neglected to inform me of my responsibilities here.

I was finally made aware of the tax in 2013 when a family member saw an article in the Irish Times about charge and the penalty, all came to 2240 Euro, 1440 of this being the late charge.

I contacted Wicklow County Council regarding this. Their reply - "Unfortunately the Government introduced the NPPR charge and late penalties under the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009. It may not be fair but it is covered by legislation.”

I paid the tax in full at the time - I was in no position to contest it from Malaysia, but it caused significant financial hardship and some extremely unpleasant communications with both agents. This charge has caused far more damage than just financial harm.

I find it very hard to understand the reason such an excessive penalty was decided to be imposed on this particular tax, as opposed to other taxes such as household charges (8%). In addition there seems to have been so much confusion with the advertising of the tax, as many people seem to have been genuinely caught out, being totally unaware of the tax.

-Justin - Wicklow


I owned only one house, in Dublin, but live (and rent) in Malta. My letting agent notified me generally of NPPR and I registered and paid 2009’s. I then somehow understood that NPPR was to be discontinued and replaced by household charge/property tax. I can honestly say it never entered my consciousness after 2009 and I received absolutely no reminders despite being registered, and DCC having all my details, until a demand arrived in the post for payment of 2013 NPPR. I then discovered the 2010/2011 tax and penalties due. I paid all under protest (€2,240), fearing mounting penalties. I also corresponded with DCC to no avail and appealed to the Ombudsman on the basis that DCC had failed in their duty to issue reminders. (DCC told me they had no such duty). The Ombudsman’s office said they could offer no remedy as my Irish agent should have notified/reminded me.

-Anna - Dublin

I have been affected by the excessive penalties on two inherited properties. I am single and self-employed –currently unemployed! I have been coerced by the state under duress into paying exorbitant penalties. Not only has there been a poor response from Senate and Dail members who I contacted there has been almost silence from those involved at the time the Act was originally created in 2009.

There was no invoice issued. This is now causing me undue hardship and has introduced a dangerous level of "moral hazard" in that I am obliged to take on greater levels of debt. I will have to stop paying my direct debit payments as I don't have adequate funds to support these debits. I was not properly informed of my liability. It is unacceptable to say adverts were on radio and in the media were adequate means to inform property owners of their liabilities.

-Olga


I've never been so close to suicidal. I own one small house in Dublin in the north inner city. It's my home and it's my sole property. Like many others, in 2009 I moved overseas to Australia to make a better life for myself. I hate being in debt and I hate not managing my finances well. I've had a nightmare these five years dealing with bad tenants, spiralling rents, mounting debts with the banks, an unresponsive and dysfunctional bank and an ugly and protracted case with the Ombudsman, and trying to sort this from overseas. Nothing could have prepared me. I've never been so close to suicidal.

I'm not earning megabucks. I’m working for a small charity in Australia, and earning a currency that is half as strong as the Euro. I had no way of knowing about the NPPR, from Australia. I simply didn’t know – how might I have known? I had never received a single item of correspondence, by mail or by email, from my Council. With rights come responsibilities, don't they say? So, if my council has the right to apply charges, they have a responsibility to act with care and diligence. They have a responsibility to make reasonable attempts to contact someone whose fines are building up over a period of five years. I only found out by chance recently that I should have paid 5 years at 200 euros = 1,000 euros. But they're now applying 320% interest, rising to 600% interest. That's three months' salary, rising to six months’ salary, and I’ve no clue how I’ll possibly find this money. I feel as though I’m being asked to subsidise the inadequate conduct of my local council and that I’m victim to an underhand, poorly thought-through and badly implemented cynical income-generation scheme gone wrong.

-Sinead

I live in England and my wife and I have a holiday house in Limerick. In recent years due to serious illness we have been unable to visit Ireland and knew absolutely nothing of these taxes. I found out by chance because someone alerted me to newspaper articles stating that if all tax owed was unpaid by a certain date (two days hence) penalty charges would double. I spent two days ringing the number advertised without getting through and couldn’t leave a message because their voicemail was full. In desperation, under duress I paid Eu4220 which I allegedly owed. I later got through to the number advertised. I was told there was only one lady working until 12.30pm each day to deal with this!

I wrote to Limerick City/County Council’s Chief Executive outlining my circumstances and asking that penalty charges at least, be withdrawn. I have received no reply other than an acknowledgement of receipt of my letter. I have been informed by email that there is no circumstance in which compassionate grounds can be considered to reduce charges.

-Terry - Limerick


I am a 58-year-old, living in the UK. I purchased a property in County Leitrim in early 2010. The intention was for it to ultimately become a retirement home. Neither the solicitor acting for me nor the estate agent acting for the seller told me anything about NPPR and i sleep walked into a 3000 Euro debt on the false - but i still believe, natural - assumption that any tax obligations that arose would arrive in the traditional manner via the letter box at the address and not in the daily newspapers.

The Irish Revenue had a problem when they thought up NPPR as only a small percentage of properties were eligible. They did not want the expense of sending letters or flyers to every house in the country so they transferred their problem on to the taxpayers and put adverts in the press. Hey presto! Loadsamoney saved! I found out about NPPR purely by chance in August 2014 and paid up, under duress. I subsequently wrote two appeal letters to Leitrim County Council (one factual, the other personal) and received a 50% rebate of the "late payment charges" (1080 Euros).

-Paul - Leitrim

I purchased a one-bedroom apartment in Shankill, County Dublin in 2008. It is my only property and my home. I moved in during the summer of 2008 and lived there until June 2010, when I was forced to move out due to an inability to meet mortgage repayments. My apartment was leased to a tenant as the only way I could meet my mortgage repayments was with rental income.  

I am self-employed and have to live off very low earnings.  I have been reliant on the goodwill of family members to provide me with temporary accommodation (rent-free) while I try to get through this difficult economic period. The Department of Social Welfare has acknowledged that I'm in a financially vulnerable position and I'm on a mean-tested social welfare payment of €89 per week to supplement my low income.     

Yet Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council have decided to pursue me for thousands of euro in back payments on a NPPR tax that I had never been made aware I could be liable for. This was sprung on me when a letter arrived through my door on August 15th 2014. I have appealed the decision with the council, various politicians (including Minister Alan Kelly and Minister Michael Noonan) and the Ombudsman. At every stage my appeal has fallen on deaf ears, and the Ombudsman informed me over the phone today (Feb 4th) that there is nothing they can do as the County Council are within their rights to pursue me for this tax under the terms of the legislation. 

So Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council are now free to target a social welfare recipient who has been forced out of his home due financial hardship. What was initially branded as a 'second property' tax is now being used to target a person with one property who hasn't the financial means to live in that property. 

Effectively, they are applying a tax on financial hardship. If I was an average wage earner I’d still be living in my home. But because I am a low wage earner, and cannot meet my mortgage repayments, I am now being hit for an additional tax (with extortionate penalties) on the home I cannot afford to live in.

This is what governance in this country has now descended to. One arm of the government (Dept. of Social Welfare) has acknowledged my financial vulnerability and provided me with some much-needed financial assistance. Meanwhile another arm of the government (the Local Authority in Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown) are allowed to swoop in and lay claim to thousands of euros from me under this NPPR money-making racket. 

When ordinary citizens can be treated in such a callous manner by those in positions of power, then I believe something has seriously gone wrong with our so-called democracy. Serious questions need to be asked of our government in relation to the way this morally-reprehensible tax has been framed and pursued.

Martin – Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown 


I have owned property in Galway City since 2002. I live overseas in Cape Cod, Mass  USA. This property in Galway is the only property I own in ROI. It has been rented since 2002 and was registered with Galway City Council(GCC) as a rental property. GCC communicated with me at my American address regarding this property. My address in the USA has remained unchanged since 1998. I pay income taxes to the Irish Government on the rental income I receive in ROI. I have been fully tax compliant and regularly receive correspondence from the Irish Revenue Commissioners regarding my tax obligations. All such correspondence is mailed to my American address.

My property is not registered with PTRB as I have a family member collect the rent.. I received NO notification that the NPPR tax had been imposed on my property until I received a letter from Galway City Council in August 2014 demanding over 4000 euro in back NPPR fees. I was absolutely flabbergasted to receive this letter and immediately contacted GCC to inquire how this tax could have been imposed without notification. This amount was due in total by Aug 31 2014, (2 weeks after receipt of the letter) or the amount increased to over 7000 euro, and if it remained unpaid it was recorded as a levy against my property, only dischargeable upon payment in full, or from sales proceeds if the property was sold within 12 yrs.

I was informed by GCC that it was my duty to make myself aware of this self assessed tax! Subsequently, I learned that the NPPR tax was imposed some 4 years prior; that notification of its imposition was ONLY by publication in local media outlets in Ireland. Accordingly those owners who resided in ROI were duly notified by publication in their local media, and thus were given the opportunity to timely pay the original 200 euro per yr without incurring interest or penalties.

Being an owner residing overseas I was never notified in any fashion until the letter arrived some 4 yrs after the imposition of the first annual payment. I was deprived of the opportunity to timely pay without incurring interest or penalty, similar to the opportunity given to  owners residing in ROI. I have never disputed the existence of the tax itself, and once the Irish Revenue took over collection of it, I have paid every yr, on time and without issue.

But I absolutely dispute the discriminatory and unconstitutional manner in which this tax was imposed and how those subject to it were not properly notified. How can anyone be mandated to pay a tax they know absolutely nothing about? How can one segment of owners be given the right to pay on time, without penalty or interest, because they were notified but yet another segment of owners who just happen to live overseas are completely deprived of that right and are never notified? And then to be provided with no appellate rights, no right to dispute, no mitigation- it all  just seems so unfair and unreasonable.

To add insult to injury and another layer of discrimination and unconstitutionality is the arbitrary way that overseas owners in Wexford and Meath were given a reprieve of 50% on their back interest and penalty by their local counsels whereas just because my property happened to be located in Galway city I was deprived of this opportunity. Post code lottery should have no place in a government imposed tax which was to be uniformly applied.

There is no place in the Western World that I am aware of that taxation in this manner would be tolerated or deemed constitutional. I have engaged the Office of the Ombudsman of Ireland to intercede in my dispute with GCC. To date this issue remains unresolved. I have offered on several occasions to pay the original underlying tax that I would have paid had I been aware of the obligation. I do not think  I should have to pay interest or penalties. I simply want the same opportunity as any owner residing in ROI received- i.e. the right to pay the tax timely once they were made aware of the obligation. To date my offers have been rejected.

Sarah - Galway

Mary, who has suffered from vascular dementia for 7 years, is now facing the €7,000+ penalty for unpaid NPPR tax on an old family home in Mayo, since she was unaware of the tax and not in a position to look after her finances over that time. Vascular dementia comes on gradually, and her family was not aware (and received no medical diagnosis of) her dementia until less than 2 years ago. Her son gained power of attorney on her behalf in December 2014, which was well after the period when the punitive late payment penalty hit.

Apart from the inherently punitive nature and scale of the late payment penalties, the absence of any provision for people with mental disabilities or other illnesses that impair their knowledge of the law or their ability to look after their affairs raises serious constitutional issues, and human rights concerns. Ireland is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the rights and needs of disabled and other affected people should be reflected in legislation and other policies.

Mary – Mayo





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