The deadline is looming for every house owner in Ireland to pay the new property tax, and understandably people are asking: when does it stop?
Over the past few years Irish citizens have been hit by a never-ending bombardment of cuts, price hikes, and increased taxes - and there is no denying the household tax which is a forerunner to a new property tax - is just another tax on people's dwindling incomes.
It was reported this week the irony of former Fianna Fail government members being toasted at the annual Ard Fheis in the RDS, while in another part of the complex thousands were queuing in the hopes of finding a future abroad. Some might consider they are the lucky ones - many seeking to flee are single people with options. Those who remain at home may not have such a choice - shackled by a mortgage while also burdened with negative equity. The cost of home essentials continue to rise - heating, health insurance, electricity, and petrol, which has reached an all-time high. Add in the universal social charge, increases in VAT rates, and it is just one financial burden after another. Wages have been slashed for the majority, outgoings are going up, and at what stage does the average person say STOP? As evidenced by the rallies in opposition to the household charge currently being held throughout the country and here in Galway, increasing numbers of Irish people are saying "enough is enough".
We all know this current Government is not responsible for our nation's plight, but is it doing enough to reassure us that our money is being well spent or that those who can pay are paying? Several factors appear at the heart of opposition to the household charge. One is the belief that this money is not really going to local services, but to speculative bondholders and, if the money is going to the exchequer, then how will it be distributed to each county and how much? In many countries national taxes are levied on personal and business income, as well as on the supply of goods and services, while local property taxes are managed and collected by councils. What guarantees are there that this money will not be misspent as has been in the past - think Bertie Bowl, e-voting, etc.
The Government has indicated the household charge is a forerunner for a new property tax, but we have no idea how this will be formulated, when it will be implemeted, or how much more/less it could cost us. The genuine fear is that today's €100 could be €1,000 next year. Would the public respond more positively if there was a guarantee put in place that the rate would be stable at least for the next five years? Would the public be more amenable if the Government revisted Croke Park?
Today, however, we have reason to celebrate. It is International Women's Day - an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments since women were first granted the vote in 1893 (in New Zealand ). More importantly it has become a day for looking ahead to the opportunities for future generations of women. International Women’s Day, first celebrated in 1975, once looked back. Now it looks ahead and celebrates the positive. Let's hope Ireland can follow suit.