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Old April 1st, 2012, 01:15 PM   #1
odlum833
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Household charge - Phil Hogan won't pay for his Portugal villa!

Quote:
Phil Hogan refuses to pay €4k service charges on his Portugal holiday penthouse

'Would you pay a charge if you were unhappy with service?' asks Minister


By JODY CORCORAN EXCLUSIVE
Sunday April 01 2012
ENVIRONMENT Minister Phil Hogan, who is in the eye of a storm over the household charge, is refusing to pay service charges on his penthouse apartment in Portugal, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Mr Hogan, who has an apartment in Villamoura on the Algarve, has an outstanding service charge of €4,320, according to a 'debtors' list document dated March 27.

Yesterday, the minister confirmed that fees "of that order" were outstanding but said that he was in dispute with the apartment complex's management company.

"Would you pay a charge if you were unhappy with the service?" he asked.

Mr Hogan added that he was "annoyed" that details of the outstanding service charges had been obtained by this newspaper.

"I am entitled to a certain amount of privacy," he said, adding: "This has nothing to do with public services."

While disputes between Irish residents and management companies at holiday home complexes abroad are increasingly common, the disclosure that Mr Hogan is refusing to pay service charges will nevertheless be acutely embarrassing for the Environment Minister.

Back home, he has been broadly criticised for his handling of the controversial €100 household charge issue, for which the payment deadline passed at midnight.

An estimated one million people have yet to register to pay the charge despite a mixture of pleas, threats and cajoling by the minister and his cabinet colleagues.

Yesterday, several thousand protesters marched on the Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the National Convention Centre in Dublin to voice their opposition to the charge.

Mr Hogan told his party's delegates: "Despite the financial pressures, despite the newness of the concept and despite the time pressure that we have had to work within, the Irish people have stepped up and registered in their hundreds of thousands.

"For that, I thank them and acknowledge their genuine patriotism."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny had told the Ard Fheis on Friday that in order to close the gap in public finances, the country's tax base had to be broadened to include a property based charge.

He said this would be "less harmful" than taxes on work and investment.

Mr Kenny continued: "I know that new taxes are never popular. The household charge is no exception. But it is needed to fund essential local services.

"I thank those who have registered and paid for the charge to date and I welcome the significant increase in the numbers registering in recent days.

"I urge others to make their contribution to the restoration of sound public finances in this country," he said.

However, the disclosure that the Environment Minister is refusing to pay service charges on his holiday home in Portugal is sure to be seized upon by those who oppose the imposition of the household charge.

Mr Hogan told the Sunday Independent: "I'm in dispute with these people, the management company, in relation to services which are not provided. Would you pay a charge if you were unhappy with the service?

"There are a number of matters in relation to the apartment that have to be resolved, a number of outstanding issues with a private management company.

"It has been going on a while. I hope to have it resolved fairly soon. But I must say that I am annoyed that details of this have been leaked is order just to try and embarrass me.

"This is a private matter. I am working with the private management company to try to resolve the dispute, which I hope will be resolved."

Mr Hogan refused to go into further detail as to the precise nature of his dispute, stating that he was "entitled to a certain amount of privacy".

In the 2007 TDs' declaration of interest, Mr Hogan disclosed that he was the "part owner of a holiday apartment at Villamoura, Portugal", but he has not had to declare ownership of the property since then.

"I am fully in compliance with the the law in relation to declaration of interests," he stressed.

According to documents seen by the Sunday Independent, a large number of owners of properties at the Bartolomeu Dias and Padro Alvares Cabral do not seem to have paid their services charges.

It is a relatively new complex adjacent to the Victoria Golf Resort and many of the owners are Irish, having purchased their properties within the last few years. According to sources locally, the management of the complex has changed recently.

http://www.independent.ie/national-n...e-3067684.html

I nearly spat out my tea when I read this this morning. Then I thought "oh, rite" April fools joke ()....then RTE confirm it's true! WTF? How stupid can he be?


Quote:
'Would you pay a charge if you were unhappy with service?' asks Minister
That's a very good question. Indeed it is.
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Old April 1st, 2012, 03:00 PM   #2
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Bit of a cheap shot Odlum. I am sure he pays his Portugese Residential Property Tax....which is a VERY different issue!

This is a Private service charge...even in Ireland they can be exorbitant. My parents are helping an elderly relative who was charged 500 for "lift maintenence" despite the fact that she lives in a bungalow!
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Old April 1st, 2012, 05:09 PM   #3
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Politics is all about perception. I don't think that looks very good. Although I do agree of course that it's different to the charge being levied here and that he probably has a genuine grievance. I don't think he should resign over his handling of the household charge (which has been shambolic) but I do wonder is Enda Kenny starting to lose patience. It's obvious the other ministers are quite content to leave Phil Hogan out to dry on this one.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 12:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thebig C View Post
Bit of a cheap shot Odlum. I am sure he pays his Portugese Residential Property Tax....which is a VERY different issue!

This is a Private service charge...even in Ireland they can be exorbitant. My parents are helping an elderly relative who was charged 500 for "lift maintenence" despite the fact that she lives in a bungalow!

I agree, they are very different issues. Management service charges for private developments are subject to dispute if the services provided are not to the standard specified in the contract, fall short in terms of quality or are not carried on a regular basis.

It's a completely different issue, though fair play to those opposing the households levy for trying to muddy the water with it.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 01:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belfastuniguy View Post
I agree, they are very different issues. Management service charges for private developments are subject to dispute if the services provided are not to the standard specified in the contract, fall short in terms of quality or are not carried on a regular basis.

It's a completely different issue, though fair play to those opposing the households levy for trying to muddy the water with it.
Muddying the waters is correct!! I think some of their campaign is getting very personalised.

Of course the irony is lost that SF preside over the imposition of much more expensive local taxes in the North. When you confront them with this fact the hide behind statements such as "the Brits are making us do it"....whilst seemingly failing to recognise the the Troika are insisting that the Irish Government implement a Property Charge!!
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 01:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odlum833 View Post
Politics is all about perception. I don't think that looks very good. Although I do agree of course that it's different to the charge being levied here and that he probably has a genuine grievance. I don't think he should resign over his handling of the household charge (which has been shambolic) but I do wonder is Enda Kenny starting to lose patience. It's obvious the other ministers are quite content to leave Phil Hogan out to dry on this one.
Actually, you made a few good points there Odlum. The PR has been fairly dismal. There was a bit of bad luck when the Leafleting company who had won the tender to distribute the information leaflets went bust. There was also some downright stupidity in not allowing the Charge to be paid in Post Offices.

Having said that, I think Phil Hogan has been subjected to some unwarrented personal abuse. Basically he was given a poisoned challace that no other Minister wanted. At the very least he is pushing ahead with it. Remember, part of the reason for the dreadful situation we are in is because of a failure of previous Governments to enact any unpopular measures.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 02:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
There was also some downright stupidity in not allowing the Charge to be paid in Post Offices.
According to Hogan, EU regulations would have forced this to be put through a tendering process which would have delayed it too long.
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Old April 2nd, 2012, 07:12 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CraigKingOfireland View Post
According to Hogan, EU regulations would have forced this to be put through a tendering process which would have delayed it too long.
I think (correct me if I'm wrong) the tendering process related to the distribution of information leaflets, the Company that underbid An Post subsequently went into unrelated liquidation. That was just bad luck.

However, it was a mistake to only use Local Authority offices as payment venues. Many bills can already be paid in the Post Office. Its fine for us....we paid online. But I know alot of older people who can't.....they could have paid it in the PO whilst collecting their Pension.
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Old April 3rd, 2012, 01:36 AM   #9
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Front page of today's Irish Times:

Quote:
Revenue should take control of property tax, say Ministers

HARRY McGEE, OLIVIA KELLY and MARESE MCDONAGH


Tue, Apr 03, 2012

DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED in collecting the new household charge has convinced a growing number of Ministers that the Revenue Commissioners should take responsibility for the full property tax when it is introduced next year.

The Cabinet will receive a full briefing at its weekly meeting today on the outcome of the campaign to get an estimated 1.8 million homes to self-register for the new €100 tax. Despite a late surge, only about half the liable households paid the fee leaving a shortfall of between €80 million and €100 million.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan is in Brussels today. In his absence, Ministers will discuss new strategies to ensure all households register and pay, including Mr Hogan’s plans to “incentivise” local authorities. He has proposed coming up with a system that rewards county and city councils that “pull out all the stops to collect the charge”.

The agency with responsibility for collating the data said an estimated 832,458 properties had been registered as of last night. The Local Government Management Agency said the results included projected figures of 106,000 for unopened postal registrations as well as a small number of late registrations that had attracted an €11 penalty.

The overall number could rise slightly over the next few days as there is a “grace period” until the end of the week for registrations posted over the weekend, bearing postmarks for yesterday’s date.

The Government claimed a figure of more than 50 per cent compliance but that was strongly disputed by anti-household charge campaigners. Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party said the true percentage was closer to 40 per cent.

Coalition Ministers emphasised yesterday that the Government would have to proceed cautiously with the next phase of the campaign.

One senior source said many Ministers were coming to the view that the full property tax should become the responsibility of Revenue, with the charge for the property being deducted from income.

“The lesson we learned is that self-registration has had mixed results and Revenue should take control of deciding who is liable, and collecting the tax,” said the source.

Another ministerial source expressed concern about the dangers of an aggressive campaign to collect the tax. “The referendum on the fiscal compact is coming up and the Government should not do anything to antagonise people. An in-your-face campaign would not be helpful,” said the source.

Minister of State Róisín Shortall accepted mistakes had been made. “There is a need now to take stock, to see where people haven’t been making the payment, and why they haven’t been making the payment,” she told RTÉ.

One Minister, speaking privately, described the campaign as a “total disaster” with no buy-in from councils. Another Minister admitted the self-declaration aspect of it had “not been a success”. However, a third Minster said that the late surge had averted a disaster.

“The fact that half have registered can allow us to say that the majority of people have paid their share,” said this Minister.

There has been limited information made available on compliance rates, with Dublin authorities scoring highly and Border councils, such as Donegal, reporting rates as low as 25 per cent.

Mr Hogan’s plan to reward councils that achieve a high compliance rate is at a very early stage and details are expected to be worked out over the coming weeks.

© 2012 The Irish Times
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