Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Household tax : protesters’ fox shot?

Protests in Kilkenny & Donegal over €100 Household Charge (RTÉ)
Has the Irish government shot the household tax protesters’ fox?

The protests are against an interim flat tax of €100. But RTÉ has today been reporting that under pressure from growing opposition, the Department of the Environment is urgently examining ways to have a "more progressive and fairer" property tax in place, possibly as early as 2013.

Figures quoted on the radio suggest the tax would be graduated from a minimum of €188 up to €3,125. This would be on houses up to €1.5 million; with even higher amounts on houses over €1.5 million.

Were this plan implemented, the €100 flat tax would apply for the year 2012 only.

This seems to me to torpedo the no-pay campaign. Yes it’s still extra taxation. And yes its purpose is to recompose bondholders for their gambling debts. But it’s going to be a whole lot harder to argue that it’s just this particular tax that should be targeted for protests.

The reason being, that there's almost universal consensus that a progressive property tax is a necessary part of a fair taxation system.

Before 1977 there was just such a progressive property tax, known as “Rates”, abolished to buy that year’s general election. There's a history here that I know only a smattering of. About how the Rates have gradually been replaced, in the teeth of protests, some more successful than others, mounted by the same people who now head the campaign against the household tax.

What little I do know I've put in this pdf file, but I'm hoping that something more comprehensive will appear soon in an op-ed somewhere.

Link to socialist party campaign “Don't register, Don't Pay!”.  Note that the campaign is against water taxes as well as the household tax.

And Thursday’s Irish Times: Environment minister Hogan confirms the process of devising the new tax has been speeded up,


Incidentally the existence of the expression “to shoot someone’s fox” gives the lie to those who defend fox hunting on the grounds that its a form of pest control.