Hundreds of homeowners exempt from paying the €100 household charge face the prospect of being hit with the tax next year.
This is because four local authorities claim an exemption that allows people living in certain “unfinished” housing developments is being wrongly applied, and that homeowners should be forced to pay.
People living in 1,300 housing developments across the country are exempt from the tax because the Department of the Environment says the estates are unfinished and lacking basic services, such as roads, footpaths, street lighting and sewerage systems.
But it has now emerged that councils in Meath, Mayo, Cavan and Dublin have formally requested that some estates be reclassified from the exemption because they are effectively completed.
According to the Irish Independent in one case, residents of the Swiftbrook estate in Virginia, Co Cavan, will avoid the charge even though the only works yet to be completed are a top coat of tar on the roads and a camera survey of the sewerage system.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan defended the number of exempt estates, saying the Government was being “understanding” of people who could not access basic household services.
“It’s not fair on people who are living in those cases to have to pay for facilities that are not up to the standard they necessarily thought they would be at the time they were buying their house.
“I’m giving them a break on this occasion, but obviously in the context of a full, progressive and fairer system of property tax in 2013 and beyond, it will have to be reviewed again,” he added.
The Department of the Environment confirmed that councils in Meath, Mayo, Cavan and Dublin had said that some estates should be taken off the list, with others added.
The exempt estates were chosen based on a physical survey of each development, and using information supplied by the local authorities.
A survey of all the estates will take place in the summer, which could result in some developments being reclassified and subject to the charge.
However, the current list will remain in place for the rest of the year.