The Big Debate
Should we pay the Government’s Household Tax?
By Conor Mcguinness
The Government is desperate to convince you that the Household Charge is temporary and serves the common good. They will lie, bluff, and hide rather than face the truth that their tax is unfair and unworkable. Below I have listed five reasons why I believe you should refuse to pay the charge.
1) The tax is merely a stepping-stone to a much bigger combined water and household charge, which will be introduced as early as next year. John Fitzgerald of the ESRI has predicted that the charge will exceed €1,000 per annum by 2014.
The argument that this is a stop-gap measure until a “fairer system” can be brought in is a nonsense. This is a softly, softly approach by Government to coax people into paying extortionate charges in the near future.
2) The Household Charge is a deeply regressive tax that demands the same €100 from a struggling family living in a negative equity three bedroom semi-detached house as it does from a millionaire living in a mansion. The charge takes no account of ability to pay, house value, or service use. It flies in the face of every theory of taxation and will hurt those on low to medium incomes the most.
3) The Government will argue that local authorities need to be funded, however our tax system has always funded our councils centrally from the Exchequer. Householders will receive no new or improved services on account of this extra taxation.
The Galway City Council has conceded that it will receive no money this year from the Household Charge. Instead the funds raised through the Household Charge will be used to pay off more debts incurred by private banks and greedy developers.
4) The Household Charge is part of the austerity agenda begun by the Fianna Fáil/Green/PD government and happily carried on by Fine Gael and Labour. Despite three years of cuts it is apparent that austerity has not worked.
The Household Charge is yet another example of the Government forcing ordinary people to pay for an economic crisis not of their making. Non-payment of the Household Charge is our opportunity to tell the Government we have had enough of their cuts, threats, and mismanagement. While billionaire bondholders and financial institutions are bailed out, families are being charged for the luxury of living in a house.
5) Many of us are already struggling to get by, and this is an unnecessary and unfair burden. The arrogance of Fine Gael Minister Phil Hogan’s quip that the charge amounts to only €2 a week shows just how out of touch the Government really is.
A recent study by the Irish League of Credit Unions shows 750,000 people have less than €20 a week after utilities and mortgage or rent are paid. Another quarter of a million people have nothing left after securing a roof over their head and paying for heat and electricity. A €100 charge is a heavy millstone for families already under pressure or those who are barely getting by.
We must defeat this charge, if we stick together and ignore the threats we can and we will.
Conor McGuinness is a resident of Knocknacarra and Secretary of the Galway branch of the United Left Alliance, which is involved in the national campaign against the household and water charges. Five ULA TDs are amongst those leading the call for non-payment of the household charge. See www.nohouseholdtax.org