Thousands of people in Ireland and abroad have recently been sent letters by local authorities informing them they may have been liable for the NPPR – (more details about NPPR here).
Even though the NPPR ended in 2013 – this may well be the first time these people have been sent any direct communication about it . The letters arrived just before the very unfair NPPR penalties are due to rise this weekend. See more about NPPR Penalties Here
There has been uproar about the size of the penalties – especially from people who live overseas and who say they knew nothing about the NPPR charge until they got these letters.
The first thing to realise is – that these NPPR letters are just for information – they are not bills or demands.They have been sent merely to alert people to the fact that they may have an undischarged liability for NPPR (Non-Principal Private Residence Charge) .
The letters have been sent , it seems , to people who appear to have more than one address according to Revenue records for LPT/Household Charge/ Income Tax etc. Some of these different adresses could be due simply to spelling discrepancies or clerical input errors. There have also been examples where a child moved out of the parental home , not far away – but for some reason didn’t update his/her employment records – so after the “data matching” it appears they have 2 homes.
If you only owned one house and that house was your main residence on the liability dates in 2009/2010/2011/2012/2013 – then you are not liable for this NPPR and you should ignore this letter.
If proof is ever required – here are some types of evidence that could be used to prove a house was your main residence:
• Your Social Welfare or employment address as per your claim/payroll records for the period of liability.
• Driver’s Licence address
• Address where your car was registered on the liability date each year
• Inclusion on the Register of Electors
There will be some people who are liable but just won’t be able to pay the accumulated charge plus all the penalties – especially those people who couldn’t sell and had to rent out their “main” home whilst they moved into a rented house because of work etc.
There is some good news .. A recent change to legislation introduced the ability for local authorities to reduce or write off part of the liability.
Under Section 77 of The Local Government Reform Act 2014 .. guidance for the local authorities was issued by Minister Noonan in March and it states :
Collection of Undischarged Liabilities
It is expected, in the majority of cases, that local authorities will collect the full NPPR charge liability from those owners . In some cases, this may be by means of arrangement by instalments, as set out further in section 5 of this guidance document. Section 76 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 may also be applied in exceptional cases where a local authority, having examined the circumstances of a case, is satisfied that some latitude is required to reasonably discharge the NPPR liability. In these exceptional circumstances the local authority may reduce or write off part of the liability.”
This is Section 76 – ” Subject to section 77 , a local authority may act as it sees fit to most efficiently collect undischarged non – principal private residence charge and late payment fee liabilities in respect of any such charge including, in the case of an individual being liable, reducing such late fee liabilities in circumstances in which the local authority considers that to do so would be most efficient for the collection of the undischarged charge and liabilities.”
The guidance continues .… “In every circumstance, local authorities should be satisfied they have taken the most equitable,efficient and economically beneficial course in the collection of the NPPR charge. In determining a course of action, local authorities should have regard to factors including ensuring equitable treatment of all NPPR owners; the cost of collection; the owner‟s circumstances and ability to pay; and the benefit to the local authority of prompt and/or structured payment of the charge.”
The guidance also says that Councils can consider claims of “hardship” and that debtors who prove hardship can opt to make arrangements to pay the NPPR and fines in installments. Hardship claims will usually require evidence such as bank account statements, statement from accountant, latest audited accounts, determination of hardship by another public body, re- negotiation of mortgage terms.
There is no actual definition of “hardship” and it is a matter for each individual local authority to consider the merits of each case that comes before it. It is principally a matter for the claimant to put their case forward, supported with appropriate evidential material.
If the initial claim of hardship is rejected by a local authority – the claimant can appeal to a more senior officer in the local authority. If if they are still not happy with the determination they can appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Hopefully the local authorities will see that it is unfair to charge penalties that are six times the original charge – and will write off some of these massive charges.
Once contact is made with the local authority – any further penalties will not be added. The overall penalties are due to increase by 50% on Sept 1st 2014.