That’s what it says on the final reminder to pay your Household Charge (the new property tax being introduced here in Ireland). They manage to combine meaningless bullshit, calculated deceit and veiled threat all into one brief phrase. That shows flair.
Don’t pay the charge and your neighbors suffer, it seems to say. As if central government is lowering its funding to local authorities by precisely the amount the household charge should raise. Of course, central funding for local spending will be reduced by far more than the household charge was ever going to raise – even if everyone could pay, never mind will. The shortfall will eventually be made up by allowing local authorities to raise the charge. So central government can keep lowering its contribution, effectively raising taxes while avoiding blame.
I just wish though, instead of this careful blend of wheedle and threat, instead of pitting neighbour against neighbour, they’d try being honest for once.
“We’re sorry, we know it isn’t fair to ask you to bear such a big portion of this debt. But as you probably know, the more money people have, the harder it is to get it out of them. We promise we’ll go after the the tax-dodging bastards, but right now we need money fast and it looks like it’s got to be you. What do you say?”
Desperate times call for desperately unfair measures. A popular one is cutting back on public overindulgences like health and education. Another is increasing flat taxes like VAT rates, because they at least seem fair. Indeed the richer you are, the fairer they seem.
Basically, it’s all about finding ways to squeeze those who can least resist the squeezing.What’s the point of trying to tax the richest after all? They’ll always find ways to bribe you not to. So it’s the poor that get it.
But mammies are sacrosanct. That’s the rule, or so we thought. It’s not worth the political risk. Make life hard for the elderly, and you make the whole country angry. They already have enough to worry about – i.e., everything you ever do or might do. The last thing they need is a vaguely threatening letter, apparently designed to sow the maximum amount of fear and confusion.
Yet that’s what mothers and grandmothers all over the country have just received. Statements, to be exact, of their revised tax credits. Now I am self-employed. I do my own accounts, make my own tax returns, so on. But I have read one of these letters, several times, and I have no shrieking idea what it means.
Many retirees have a work pension as well as their state one, both of which they paid towards of course, and neither – they were given to understand – liable to tax. But now the worry is that between them they create a tax liability. This means people with zero hope of ever increasing their incomes are now in fear that the money they budgeted for is going to be suddenly reduced. By how much? Will they still be able to feed themselves, still afford fuel? They have absolutely no idea. All the have is a document covered with the calculations of bureaucrats, that might or might not represent an end to any security.
Incentives for property investment? There are times I want to go into government buildings with some sort of brain detector, see can I find anything. The reason why the property market is moribund is that property is still insanely overvalued. Urging people to invest in something overvalued is not only what got is into trouble in the first place, it’s surely a form of fraud.
Insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting a different outcome.
This budget is going to make me worse off. This is not what I object too though. What gets me is that it will make people who are better off less well off than it will make me. This is something to do with it being a “jobs budget”. They don’t want to create a disincentive for the poor to work by taxing the rich too much.
I think they do their economics by voodoo and shibboleth. They have raised money today by every means conceivable except raising income taxes, because raising income taxes is a Bad Thing. The result is that we have a highly regressive budget that hurts the poor far more than the well-off. Certainly it could be counterproductive to pile on excessive taxation. But is it not even more mad, in the midst of economic disaster, to have some of the lowest direct taxes in the developed world?
My mother, confused about why she’ll be able to afford less fuel this winter, asked me “So why can’t they tax the rich?”
I thought for a minute, and replied “Mainly, because they’re rich.”