Developers will be all too aware of the incoming Residential Zoned Land Tax (RZLT). RZLT is set to take effect from 1 February 2024 onwards. As discussed in our previous article, the new tax will be charged on all land which is identified by local authorities as meeting certain criteria related to residential development.
A significant number of landowners and developers lodged appeals to An Bord Pleanála (ABP). This follows the dismissal by local authorities of objections against the inclusion of land in the first set of draft RZLT maps. ABP recently published its first tranche of decisions, refusing the majority of the appeals
Given the high number of dismissals, landowners will want to consider their options under the statutory framework for RZLT, Part 22A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (as amended) (TCA). We look at an aggrieved landowner’s next steps.
Can I challenge ABP’s dismissal of my RZLT appeal?
The only available route to challenge a decision of ABP is to lodge an application to judicially review the decision in the High Court. If the Court grants leave and the proceedings progress to a substantive decision, the Court may dismiss the application or grant an order for relief. This may result in ABP’s decision being held to be unlawful and quashed so that it has no legal effect.
On what grounds can a challenge be brought?
The lawfulness of the decision will depend on, amongst other things, ABP’s decision notice and the supporting Inspector’s report. These documents, as well as the original submissions, will need to be scrutinised in detail to identify potential legal grounds and likelihood of success.
What is the deadline for bringing a challenge?
Although there is some debate within the legal industry regarding the deadline, a cautious approach is to move the application for leave to judicially review the RZLT appeal within eight weeks of the date of ABP’s decision.
If I lodge a judicial review challenge, what does this mean for the RZLT tax liability?
If the decision to include land in the draft map is subject to judicial review proceedings, which have not been finally determined at least 30 days prior to the date of publication of the final map, by 31 October 2023 at the latest, then the relevant land is to be included on the final map. This is set out under Section 653L of the TCA.
Are there any other options to defer paying the RZLT tax liability if the proceedings are ongoing?
If a landowner’s land is included in the final map, the landowner must register with Revenue and make RZLT returns for the land. A landowner may apply to the Revenue to defer the RZLT liability where the judicial review proceedings have not been finally determined by the return date for payment, as set out in the TCA.
If the judicial review is successful, the lands must be subsequently removed from the final map following the determination of the judicial review proceedings, as noted in Section 653M of the TCA. If unsuccessful, the landowner must amend the returns where the claims were made, and pay any tax and interest accordingly.
Are there any other options to defer the tax?
If the landowner is lodging a commencement notice for the residential development, the landowner can also apply to defer the tax. The tax will not be due and payable until the earliest of certain events relating to the works ceasing permanently without certificates of compliance or changes in ownership.
My land was not included in the draft map, am I safe from RZLT?
Lands not included in the first draft map may be included in subsequent “supplemental” maps where the relevant land is considered to come within the RZLT criteria. Therefore, it is advisable to check the supplemental maps, as landowners are not notified of the changes and must meet strict deadlines to lodge objections.
ABP appears to broadly agree with the majority of local authority decisions to include land on draft RZLT maps. If a landowner intends to judicially review an ABP appeal dismissal, the landowner will need to act promptly to ensure its application is made within eight weeks of ABP’s decision.
If you would like to discuss concerns regarding the imposition of RZLT on your land, please contact a member of our Planning & Environment team.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.