Water charges have not been abolished …. yet.
The new Government have announced their intention to suspend Water Charges. It was a controversial issue which took a long time for the various parties to agree on. The water charges are expected to be suspended for at least nine months, while an “expert commission” looks into the future funding of water services.
Many people are probably wondering if they should bother paying the latest water bill . Others are looking into how to get a refund of some of the water charges they have already paid.
Latest on Water Charge Refunds – November 2017
The fifth set of Irish Water bills are still going out at the moment – these will cover the water charges for Jan/Feb/March 2016. Irish Water are obliged to issue these bills until new legislation is passed to suspend the charges. Some of these bills will not be sent out until June and direct debits could still be taken from accounts up until June also.
If you have set up a Direct Debit to pay your water charges – you can easily cancel that if you wanted to stop any further deductions of water charges being made from your bank account. Just contact your bank – or you should be able to do it online if you use internet banking. Either way – it will probably be quicker and cheaper than calling Irish Water to cancel it on their 1890 number
It is also possible to request a refund of any Direct Debit under the SEPA system (Single Euro Payments Area) – but only if it was taken in the past 8 weeks. You don’t have to give a reason for the refund request . You just need to request the direct debit refund from your bank. Bank of Ireland have an online form you can use to request a Direct Debit Refund – here.
With the other banks it looks like customers have to call into a branch to fill in a form in order to request a refund on a Direct Debit.
Irish Water say that ” customers remain liable for balances due on any bills issued for services provided up to the end of March 2016 and Irish Water continues to accept payment and to deal with any billing queries in relation to outstanding balances”
The legislation to suspend water charges will probably start from June, at the end of the current billing cycle. So no bills will be sent for the charges covering April/ May and June 2016 or for the following two quarters.
There is a chance that water charges will be abolished completely – but they could also be reinstated. If they are abolished – it is not certain that refunds will be given to anyone who paid the charges. The Labour party are putting forward a bill that would force Irish Water to refund all payments to customers if water charges are abolished.
There are late payment penalties for water charges – but it is very unlikely that these penalties will be applied during any suspension of charges .
There is also legislation in place which currently requires that people selling a house must have paid their water charges or, if not, that their solicitor must deduct any unpaid amount from the proceeds. This legislation will probably be revoked during the suspension of water charges.
Latest on Water Charge Refunds – Sept 2017