The Return Of The Poll Tax..?

March 2, 2013 18 Comments
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Local authorities have conceded that up to 84% of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes this April, and admit there is little they can do about it.

Really? It seems to me there’s a lot they can do about it!

Or is it more a case that there’s little they want to do about it, which is quite another argument…

… because the sums average less than £5 a week, councils are warning that it would “in many cases be uneconomic to recover, with the costs of collection, including legal recovery costs, being higher than the bill”.

There’s 52 weeks in a year. Just wait a year. They’ll be high enough then.

Who is pushing this idea that it’ll be a failure akin to the Poll Tax, though? Well, you’ll never guess…

A series of freedom of information requests by False Economy, a campaigning group part-funded by trade unions, found more than 70 councils were resigned to seeing swaths of residents refusing to pay the tax.

Ah, but not all councils are so resigned to losses. Or maybe just not so willing to see the policy fail:

Some local authorities will take unprecedented measures against poor people who will not pay. In North Tyneside, the council says the low level of charge to the poor – amounting to £50 a year – means it is justified in collecting unpaid council tax from “ongoing benefits”.

Oh, that’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons! We’re in for a bumpy ride.

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18 Responses to The Return Of The Poll Tax..?

  1. March 2, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I wish my council tax was £5 a week!

  2. March 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    When we’re late by 1 day in paying our council tax, we get a letter threatening legal action. I doubt very much that our council would ignore a £5 debt.

  3. Tatty
    March 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I call bullshit on the council’s hand-wringing. I did a VERY short stint working in a Bailiffs office in my wasted youth a year or two before the Poll Tax was abolished and I can categorically state that the authorities CAN AND HAVE taken full advantage of “The System” to recover amounts under £1.

    Any costs are simply added to the bill that the debtor then has to pay. Going on the figures back then then a straightforward collection of £1 debt + £15 Liability Order issued from the Court + £20 Bailiff Attendance = £36 could then…and now… easily be recovered by removing and selling a TV.

    The only point at which the “account” is returned to the council is if the debtor doesn’t have anything worth removing and selling to cover the debt. Not likely these days, is it.

    I simply don’t buy what this council are trying to sell which I believe it the illusion that there will be massive civil unrest – requiring equally massive authoritarian crackdown, natch…

    • March 3, 2013 at 7:18 am

      I’m not sure the councils are leading this, Taffy – it required a FoI by a union front group, after all!

      • Tatty
        March 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm

        Taffy ? :)

        Granted and I’m sure that all the relevant facts and figures are based on something but only after each response is carefully filtered and reworked does anyone get the answers the council allows them to have. S’all ‘m sayin’.

  4. Mudplugger
    March 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    The Community Charge (aka Poll Tax) was an excellent idea, just badly implemented – piloting it first in ‘rebel’ Scotland was not exactly smart, was it ?
    Its major feature of principle was that everyone paid something, thus establishing the concept that ‘services’ are never ‘free’. Since abolishing it and creating a welfare-dependent underclass, there is now a widespread belief that any ‘government service’ is actually free.
    Anything which aims to restore the principle that everyone should pay something deserves support, even if it requires a marginal parallel increase in benefit payments to compensate in extreme cases – the principle is the thing.

    I would go further and introduce Income Tax at 1% on even the lowest earnings, rising by many tiny thresholds as income increases – that would achieve the same effect (as well as making tax-avoidance uneconomic at each threshold level). The current approach of taking millions of people out of Income Tax completely by raising the initial threshold for the 20% Tax level causes those millions not to value the services provided because they’re paying absolutely nothing towards them.

    • john in cheshire
      March 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      I agree. In addition, the mantra of ‘no taxation without representation’ is repeated by socialists any time there is a proposal to reduce beneficence to the ‘poor’, I would say that there should equally be ‘no representation without taxation’. That would flush out a lot of the dross that is such a burden on us taxpayers.

      • Mudplugger
        March 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

        The solution to the ‘no representation without taxation’ point is to grant all electoral votes on a simple scale.
        Everyone gets one basic vote (OMOV – basis of democracy), but then each voter should gain an additional bonus vote for every £1,000 paid in personal direct taxes in the previous tax-year (Total of Income Tax + NI).

        Something about ‘He who pays the piper…..”.

        This wouldn’t entirely be a one-way trip because, whilst diluting the influence of the non-contributing welfare-class, it would also reduce the influence of the pensioner-vote, who tend to become more right-leaning with age and who use their votes in greater numbers. But, as elderly pensioners have less personal ‘investment’ in the future, limiting their electoral influence may be considered more appropriate anyway.

        Who knows, we may even see tax-exiles returning to Britain for the year before an election in order to garner their full share of votes.

    • March 3, 2013 at 7:19 am

      Yes, I approved of the Poll Tax – if we have to have tax, it’s fair that we should all have to pay.

    • wiggiatlarge
      March 3, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      I have commented before on the as you say bad implementation of the Community charge, and as you so rightly comment properly administered and thought out it is still far superior to anything else on the table.
      The fact that only 35-40% of households (these were figures the Suffolk county auditor gave out some years ago) actually pay any tax means a small minority of the popualation are carrying the can on this tax which is not based on the ability to pay, your other suggestion is equally valid .

    • backofanenvelope
      March 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

      When I suggested this on the Adam Smith Inst blog, I got shouted down. There are too many people in this country who think money grows on trees. We should also insist that all till receipts show tax charged in red. We could start with the petrol stations – big signs on the forecourt showing the pre-tax price of fuel.

  5. Bertie Bassett
    March 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    £5 per week is £250 per year. If you don’t start or are late with installment payments, you must pay the whole amount there and then and face having to appear before the magistrates’ court.

    Parking fines come to less than £250 and councils know how to get payment – the mechanism is in place. People don’t get “let off” because they are in receipt of benefit.

    And the even more obvious solution is to deduct this from other benefits.

    • Furor Teutonicus
      March 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      XX And the even more obvious solution is to deduct this from other benefits. xX

      No. Because no matter WHAT “benefits” it is detucted fom, the fact reamains, that it is you, and me, ie THE TAX PAYER, that ends up paying it.

      They fiddle 200 from the dole, then they work in a “community usefull job” until they have “paid it off.” And, in the meantime, they do not get a single PFENNIG from the tax payers purse. No “rent paid”, no “Council tax” paid…. NOT a single JOT!!

      Of course, this means the bastards get FURTHER in debt, and HEY PRESTO!!! We have a totaly FREE street/sewer/nuclear waste/you name it, cleaning service…. complete with leg chains, if you want.

      And NO. I am NOT joking.

      Just DO it!

  6. David
    March 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Is this more a case of unable to pay, rather than refusing to pay? Or, widening the range, more a case of prioritising low income into avoiding loss of utilities or home or even avoiding conflict with more threatening debtors ?
    Does it matter that people receiving benefits don’t pay them back to the same or similar agency?
    Do solutions to arguments on issues like this centre around the poor distribution of wealth in the UK, where too many people are working for a lower remuneration than an accepted living wage, while a relative few take an increasing percentage of national earnings?
    Especially in times of austerity, are we afraid of losing the services of the most wealthy economically active in society more than being afraid of degrading the least wealthy and society as a whole?
    I would prefer that politicians & media provide us with the correct perspective, facts and choices after thorough non biased research, allowing us to progress rather than regress, as a society. Especially as there are enough problems looming in our lifetimes, that we are increasingly at risk to, the longer we are diverted from acting to avoid. (e.g. exponential consumption of finite natural resources by an ever increasing global population, where national protectionism will not solve the problems, but will increase conflict)

  7. Furor Teutonicus
    March 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    Since WHEN has OoL “moderation of comments”?????

    • March 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

      We don’t! Some comments get flagged by the spam filter, though, due usually to too many links or too many odd characters (probably the ‘x’ in your comment in your case).

      I’ve just released one such.

  8. March 4, 2013 at 7:06 am

    The little word “will” has been used in place of “can”. As in “cannot pay”. [Got my sums wrong so this sentence now eliminated - where would I be without Rossa?]

    I know there are lazy bums who’ve never worked, I see them all the time but equally, there are zero jobs up here for a large sector of society in the north, in the sense that they take them on temporarily now in batches and they’re spat out at the end of it. Meanwhile, they’re monetarily much worse off than on the dole.

  9. Derek Vivian
    March 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I totally agree with ‘Poll Tax’ or a local tax where all those earning pay. I would go further and suggest a complete overhaul of how tax rates are set. It no longer should be based on property values. I should prefer to see local tax paid from the Treasury at a rate per person on the electoral register, with possible a local levy for special spendings. This would be legally binding on Parliament to see payment is done each year so not controlled by politics!

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