Deadline for household Charge looms

As the deadline for the household charge gets closer, the opposition to the tax get louder. The government sets out their case for the charge. Fianna Fáil say its badly promoted, with Labour squaring up to the Fine Gael Minister about the methods of promotion and collection. The government remains on course to bring in the new tax. Other opposition parties consider it a regressive tax that doesn't take into consideration peoples incomes.

In an interview with CCÉ Sentor John Whelan of Labour spoke of the debacle surrounding the household charge. Asked how is the tax progressive, he said he agreed the current tax was not a progressive tax as everyone pays the same rate regardless of their income and/or property. He admits the government did not taken the right line in explaining the evolution of the tax, and it will be a tax that takes into account personal financial situations and property values. He agrees the public are right to be angry at payment methods, which excluded those with out internet or credit card access, and the expertise that is there for collecting such taxes was not used.

In relation to the opposition, he said that the re-introduction of a property taxes comes 35 years after the landslide victory of Jack Lynch and Fianna Fail, he went on to state that there was political cowardice toward the reintroduction in subsequent governments. He said that this tax is not an unusual tax and most developed countries have property taxes including Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

He said the same people calling for the retention of local services are also asking people to not to pay the tax. He states that the programme for government includes a provision for not taxing work. The aim is to look at a wider tax base, including a property tax, which is being introduced because of the IMF/EU agreement with the previous government.

He went on to argue that much of the privatization of pubic services in local areas is down to the lack of funding available to local authorities over the years.

Shawn Tracey of Sinn Fein has stated their opposition to any form of property tax. He says a full review of local government funding needs to take place. Regardless of the lack of public information surrounding the tax, he says that Sinn Fein still regard the tax as regressive. He says there is a fear among people that this charge will increase in the future. He said the government have been unwilling to state how the new systems will work in 2013 and beyond. Sinn Fein will continue to oppose any introduction to a property tax.

Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit says that the flat rate completely disregards people's ability to pay, however he goes on to say that the proposed property tax still remains regressive, as any property tax takes into consideration the value of the property rather then the owners financial ability to pay his or her tax. He states that such a property tax cannot be considered progressive.

He believes Labour's statement that information and payment methods have been badly publicized, shows how labour are trying to show some concern, while still supporting a tax that is regressive. He points to Nordic countries which have higher brackets and higher rates of income tax.

On tax avoidance he says that people who can afford to pay don't pay, and we are rewarding tax avoidance. He says this needs to stop and that stricter controls need to be imposed on the wealthy. He points to large application forms required to be filled for social welfare assistance, which aims to ruthlessly root out so called social welfare fraud. He says a progressive tax system is based on an individual's ability to pay, and one that does not allow for large scale tax avoidance from the super rich. He said that this opposition to household tax and water tax draws a line in the sand and that tax fairness is based on people's ability to pay.