Getting someone else to pay the household tax. December 28, 2011Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
There’s a brilliant line in a letter to the Irish Times last week about the Household Charge. The letter attempts to draw a comparison between the charge and TV licences, etc, arguing that because they’re flat then the charge is legitimate.
I can’t understand why Mr Higgins has never protested at the unfairness of some other “flat” taxes, such as the following. The TV licence fee is a €160 annual flat tax on every household, regardless of house size or income, or the number of TVs owned (Joe Duffy and Pat Kenny please note!). Annual motor tax is based on engine size, no one is asked what their income is; indeed, the changes in 2008 make it cheaper for those better-off motorists who can afford newer cars.
That sort of misses a number of points – not least that such fees are regressive and progressives are [in general] against them and are [generally] in favour of income taxes. Then there’s the issue that the new charges exemplify aspects of contemporary economic and social policy in a particularly pointed way, in a way which is much clearer than a – currently – quixotic campaign against TV licenses or whatever. Then there’s the further issue that although starting at €100 we have no real sense of where these charges will end in terms of how large they may be. Then there’s the issue that although we are promised they will be progressive – copyright P. Hogan, given the lassitude on the part of the government to date on the issue and their abysmal portrayal of VAT increases as not impacting on those on median and lower incomes what credibility should we afford their protestations.
There’s also the issue that the backlash started by the left has actually engendered responses from the government which are shifting towards clarity on the issue. That in itself is all the justification needed in a democracy for protest and opposition. Though from the howls of upset in the media one would think that the left was committing the worst form of lese-majeste in daring to query such policies.
As was also put to me this week, if the left complains about an issue such as flat tax the criticism is raised that they’re not looking at issues x y and z, if they contest issues x y and z they’re told they’re against everything.
By the way Mick Wallace has a not bad letter as well which can be read at the link above which points out that – er… if grandstanding were done on the issue it was done by Fine Gael who adamantly opposed a ‘flat rate charge’ in their election manifesto.
But let me finish this post with what’s really great in the letter referenced above:
We need our politicians, media commentators and lobby groups to behave responsibly and stop the populist posturing. The general public recognises the gravity of our financial situation, national and individual, and realises that we can’t always get someone else to pay. – Yours, etc,
Well actually, with a flat tax that’s precisely the problem. There those with more income are getting those with less income to pay proportionately more relative to their incomes.