Belfast Telegraph

Money may be taken from accounts

Stark plans to remove cash forcibly from people's bank accounts and benefits if they refuse to pay the controversial household tax are being drawn up by the Government, it can be revealed.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan said changes this year to legislation introduced two years ago will allow the State to seek court approval to "deduct from source" fines and penalties incurred by the late or non-payment of the 100 euro charge - yet to be paid by the vast majority of citizens.

Furthermore, the Fine Gael minister said fines - which could mount into hundreds of euro after a year - could be taken directly from people's pay packets and bank accounts.

"We will have legislation that will allow a court to, in certain circumstances, allow the State to deduct from source," said Mr Hogan.

Hundreds of thousands of householders have so far not paid the charge, against the backdrop of a campaign against it led by several left-wing TDs.

Protesters have claimed they would rather go to court and jail than pay the fee, but the new legislation seeks to prevent that.

Latest figures show that only 15% - some 251,458 of the 1.6 million liable for the charge - have registered.

Those who fail to do so by the March 31 deadline have been warned they could face a fine between 1,000 and 2,500 euro.

They will also accumulate late-payment penalties, building interest fees of 1% (of the 100 euro) per month for six months after the deadline date, which will rise to 10% per month between six months and a year after the date, and 30% per month after the first year.

Opposition TDs have made numerous calls for the Government to scrap the charge, arguing that a flat rate is unfair and that the wealthy should be taxed instead.

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