Yes, the world is abuzz with the fuss that Irish homeowners are making over the Household Tax. To recap, the Household Tax is a precursor to a property tax, which hasn’t been charged until now. Homeowners are asked to pay EUR100 this year, with an eye towards bringing in a proper tax in 2013. The idea is to get homeowners to self-identify themselves to the government to create the database. (Many government (and indeed health and education) records still are very much on paper.) The deadline for paying this tax was this past Saturday – however, at last count less than half of the suspected 1.6 million households have ponied up.
In fact, there was a protest at the current ruling party’s annual planning conference (called an “Ard Fheis”). An estimated 5,000-plus people turned out to air their rancor against this tax. Indeed, a number of TDs (members of the Irish parliament) have taken to the airwaves to condemn this tax and at least in a couple of cases, hint broadly that people not should pay it. From an American conservative/libertarian point of view, this all looks promising…
…until you hear what the complaints are all about. Almost no one is calling for a cut in spending. A goodly number are piqued that they can’t pay for this bill at the post office. And other voters and government folk are calling for the property tax to be means-tested. Sinn Fein wants to scrap this tax altogether for a flat-out income tax rate hike (which is what a property tax based on income level would effectively become) . In other words, this is really a broad-based call for more soaking the rich. But let’s see where this tax is going to.
It’s being sent to the District Councils – local-based government at the city or county level. And what it’s paying for are parks. Swimming pools. Libraries. And streets (remind me what the Road Tax was supposed to be for?) Meanwhile, still no talk of councillors taking a pay cut. Just asking the homeowners to dig deep to pay for “leisure amenities”. Feh, “leisure amenities”. Let’s get this straight. This isn’t a principled fight over taxation. It’s a squabble over who pays for little Sinead’s swim lessons. As King James II exclaimed at the Battle of the Boyne, GMAFB.