A 100 euro household tax to hit more than a million and a half homes has been denounced as a burden too far on cash-strapped citizens already at breaking point.
Most homes across Ireland are to face the flat-rate charge from January with the threat of a further 10 euro fine for every month the payment is late.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan said he understood people are already suffering under a slew of levies, charges and interest rate hikes, but insisted he had no other option.
"I'd prefer not to be introducing any charges but I'm obliged, because we have ceded our economic sovereignty as part of the EU/IMF agreement, to bring in a property tax," he said.
Admitting the tax could be fairer, he said it was a temporary two-year measure ahead of a property tax based on a value in 2014, which would be a "much fairer system".
Owners, and not occupiers, will be liable for the charge, with properties exempted including commercial premises, social and local authority housing, some unfinished "ghost" estates, charity-run buildings and sheltered homes.
Younger people struggling to make home loan repayments, who qualify under the mortgage interest supplement scheme, can also qualify for a waiver.
Around 1.6 million homes will be given three months to pay up from January, with around a quarter of a million households escaping the charge.
The new levy is separate from a tap tax, or water charges, to be introduced in 2014.
Trade unions and left-leaning TDs pointed out the poorest homeowners will be forced to pay the same as the wealthiest.