A History of the Valuation Office

The Valuation Office has a rich and extensive history. A system of taxes or rates was first formalised in legislation by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1601. A royal decree was issued to the effect that all persons should pay a tax; this was later altered to a property tax. King George IV initiated the first Government Valuation of Ireland Act in 1826 and Sir Richard Griffith was appointed to be the first Commissioner of Valuation to oversee the implementation of the Act in 1830.

In 1838, when the Poor Law Act was enacted, it was the first Act of Parliament to set as the base for poor law relief, the valuation of every tenement or building in the country. The basis of valuation was to be net annual value. Changes in procedures then followed through the Poor Law Acts of 1839, 43, 47, 48, 49 culminating in the dawn of a new era with the introduction of the Valuation of Ireland Act, 1852. This legislation provided for the first general valuation of all tenements in Ireland, a task which was undertaken and completed in 1864 by Commissioner Griffith. This valuation has been known ever since as the “Primary Valuation of Ireland” as it was the first time that each tenement was valued separately. The unit of valuation under the 1826 legislation was the townland.

The Valuation Act 1852 acted as the core legislation for well over a century. In 1986, a new Valuation Act made provision for valuing certain types of machinery or industrial plant and the legislation also made rateable valuations relative in a modern context. Further refinements to the system were introduced by the Valuation Act, 1988 which provided primarily for the “global” valuation of public utility undertakings and the setting up of the Valuation Tribunal, which is an independent body to hear appeals against decisions of the Commissioner of Valuation. This body took over the appellate function previously carried out by the Circuit Court.

A comprehensive statute was introduced in 2001, which modernised the valuation code in general and repealed all previous Valuation Acts which had been in place since the middle of the 19th century. The new Valuation Act 2001 provided for a streamlining of the system of valuation and appeals and most notably provided for the revaluation of all properties in Ireland. As a consequence, the national revaluation programme has been concluded in the three county council areas in Dublin, i.e. South Dublin, Fingal and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, in Dublin City Council, Waterford City and County Council and in Limerick City and County Council. Since November 2015, revaluation of Kildare, Offaly, Westmeath, Longford, Leitrim and Sligo County Councils has been underway and the revaluation of Roscommon County Council commenced in January 2016. A series of amendments to the Valuation Act 2001 were enacted through the Valuation (Amendment) Act 2015 which came into force on 8th June 2015. An administrative “Working Consolidation” of the current valuation legislation is available here.