Ireland: Campaign launched against household tax

Refuse to pay the new tax!

See also

See RTÉ report on Clare Daly’s website. Clare Daly is a TD (member of the Irish Parliament for the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland).

Comment: Do not register for Houshold Tax!

by Joe Higgins, TD (member of Irish Parliament), Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

This article appeared in the Friday Column of the Daily Mail (Ireland)

It didn’t take long for reality to give the lie to the Government’s cynical propaganda campaign minimising the effect of the new Household Tax. The ‘sure it’s only €2 a week’ mantra by Environment Minister Phil Hogan and fellow Ministers may not be heard much from now on in the wake of the revelation that the Government wants to speed up the introduction of a substantial ‘property tax’.

The widespread media speculation that the levels favoured by the Taxation Commission are now being considered, give an idea of the new burdens being prepared for ordinary householders in a year or two if the government gets its way. A very great proportion of homes would fall into the price category between €150,000 and €450,000 which would mean an annual tax of between €500 and just under €1,000. This would be an intolerable burden for those who are already bearing the brunt of the crisis. And that would be before another imposition of a water tax which could be several more hundred each year.

What is being called a ‘property tax’ is no such thing, rather it is a tax on the homes of individuals and families. A real property tax would be a tax on, well property, which includes all the wealth held by individuals. In particular it would be a tax on the very wealthiest section of society, including especially the 5% of the population who own 46.8% of the wealth in Irish society. The property tax as proposed currently is simply another device to hit hardest the majority of our people on low and middle incomes. These are the ones on whom the heaviest burden has fallen to pick up the bill for the crazed policy of salvaging Irish and European speculators from the consequences of their greed.

Various arms of the establishment were quick to denigrate those, who not only denounce the new taxes but plan to follow that up with a serious fight to defeat them, deploying civil disobedience as the most effective way to do this. The Irish Times in an editorial that was a comprehensive defence of the ruinous speculator bailout policy, rounded on those members of Dáil Éireann who had the temerity to support a boycott movement of the new tax.

Describing the action of these TDs as a ‘shabby piece of grandstanding’, ‘perverse’ and ‘a ticket for their re-election’ the paper of record goes on to claim that a ‘property tax’ – meaning a home tax – ‘is generally seen as an important step towards creating fairness within the taxation system.’ It didn’t occur to the editorial writer to apologise for that paper’s own contribution to the property bubble and the blackmailing of a whole generation of young working people forced to purchase homes at the obscene prices demanded. Like other newspapers, the Irish Times made a fortune from the advertisements of the developers and bankers who were responsible. But it went further, attempting to get in on the lucrative action itself through the purchase of ‘My Home.ie’ one of the biggest internet property traders in the sale of homes at inflated prices.

Also vocal in his denunciations has been Tanaiste and Labour Party Leader, Eamon Gilmore. He told The Irish Daily Mail yesterday that the Dáil deputies supporting the boycott were ‘exploiting the issue for their own political advantage’ and guilty of ‘the height of cynicism’.

How quickly Mr Gilmore forgets the very large and expensive advertisements he took out in national newspapers shortly before the General Election. Under banner headlines, ‘Look what Fine Gael has in store for you!’ and ‘Every little hurts’ the ad gives examples of what Labour then considered to be hurtful to the living standards of ordinary people. Included was a €50 increase in car tax, a 23% VAT rate, €238 per annum water tax and a child benefit cut. With consummate cynicism each of these ‘hurtful’ measures was subsequently voted through by the Labour Party in the Budget. So Mr Gilmore knows a thing or two about the ‘height of cynicism’ but his mistake is to assume that all other public representatives are motivated by the same cynicism which characterises him and his party.

An active campaign involving the boycott of the registration and payment of the Household Tax can force the government to back off from this aspect of its ruinous austerity policy which apart from its injustice is destroying the economy. The Campaign Against the Household Tax is seeking to mobilise every area to have mass non registration as a ‘fact on the ground’ by St. Patrick’s Day, two weeks before the deadline set by the government. If say, up to or over, a million householders refuse to register at that stage, this will then be seen by them and everybody else as a major step to a further and stronger mobilisation to defeat this tax.

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