A Revenue Commissioners letter to Longboat Quay apartment owners that a reduction in their property tax was possible should not have been issued, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.
Mr Noonan told Sinn Féin housing spokesman Dessie Ellis Revenue "incorrectly replied to a small number of property owners in the Longboat Quay complex confirming that a reduction in value was possible".
But he said the property tax due was based on property values in May 2013. He said structural defects were detected two years later and “they may affect the current valuation of the properties. However, they do not change the valuation retrospectively.” He said there was “no basis in law” to reduce the valuation during the local property tax valuation (LPT) period.
Owners of the Dublin docklands apartment complex, which was condemned last year as a firetrap because of serious fire-safety construction faults, had been told they could reduce the value of their properties to band one, the equivalent of €90 a year.
But in a subsequent letter from the Revenue they were informed that this was incorrect and they could not lower the property valuation and must revalue them at between €250,000 and €300,000, or the equivalent of €495 in tax a year.
Mr Ellis said it was “obscene” that families were asked to pay anything because they had done nothing wrong but “find themselves living in homes that are dangerous” and effectively valueless.
He said Revenue had initially “at least showed some willingness to use common sense and the flexibility permitted to them to reduce the band”. But the “bureaucratic wheels turned and a second letter was sent only this week to the residents”. He said: “This incompetence is stunning..
The Dublin North TD asked why they were being asked to pay a tax “that is clearly not set at the value of their homes”.
Appeal to Minister
He appealed to the Minister to add the Longboat Quay complex to the list of properties exempt from tax, similar to those in unfinished estates, and said there were
“probably only a few days left in which to fix this problem if the Minister insists it is a legal issue”, because of the general election.
Otherwise they would be stuck in their current band for a further three years, because of the “cynical postponement of the next valuation date for LPT” until October 2019.
Mr Noonan said the initial Revenue letter “was an error and should not have been issued”. He said they “only realised the error when further letters were received from a large number of residents of the complex seeking similar treatment”.
Mr Noonan said that once the mistake was discovered “Revenue immediately wrote to the original persons involved apologising for the incorrect information. Revenue also wrote to the other property owners who were seeking similar reductions to confirm that the valuations could not be reduced.”
More than 600 people live in the 298 apartments built by former developer Bernard McNamara.