The Government’s consideration of a household tax of course amounts to a poll tax for single person households, though they would strenuously avoid using such terminology. In fact, they avoid using the word ‘tax’ at all where possible, preferring instead to describe their additions to the confiscatory rate of taxation as ‘charges’. A charge is something one pays in return for something, the universal social charge and now the proposed household charge are not charges, they are taxes in return for nothing; they are simply additional levies to be paid by working people towards the unjust bailout financial institutions bankrupted by incompetence and greed.
And how much would the new tax raise? How many households are there? Census 2011 preliminary returns say, ‘The number of dwellings increased by 234,562 from 1,769,613 in 2006 to 2,004,175 in 2011 . . . These Preliminary Results show that the total number of vacant dwellings in 2011 has increased by 27,880 from 266,322 to 294,202’. So the number of occupied households is presumably 2,004,175 less 294,202? That would give a total of 1,709,973.
If the Government decided to levy its latest tax on every household at €100 per household, the maths is very simple: add two noughts to 1,709, 973 and the total would be €170,997,300 – a total that would obviously be doubled to €341,994,600 if the levy figure were to be €200 per household.
€342 million sounds attractive to any finance minister, but there would be households that would be exempt. The usual criterion for exemption is the holding of a medical card. The Government’s own health website says there are “over 1.6 million medical card holders and 120,000 GP visit card holders”. Those are statistics for individuals; the levy is on households. Census 2011 says there were 4,581,269 people in the state in April. Divide that number by the number of occupied households and it produces an average household size of 2.68 people. If the number of medical card holders 1.6 million plus 120,000 is divided by the average household size of 2.68 it would suggest that 641,791 households might be exempt fro the tax.
So from a base of 1,709,973, the minister is reduced 1,068,002 households on which to impose the tax. At €100 per household, a total of €106,800,200; at €200 per household €213,600,400. The prospect of €342 million is diminished to €214 million, and that is before any consideration is taken of the huge cost that would arise in attempting to collect such a tax.
Instead of hurting the people who are already carrying a huge burden, why is the Government not targeting unnecessary expenditure? Following the publication of the Cloyne Report and the revelation of Vatican complicity in church disregard for the law, Charlie Flanagan, the chair of the Fine Gael parliamentary party called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio. One of the logical steps in cutting expenditure would be to end the unnecessary and costly diplomatic relations with the Vatican; it is a piece of medieval nonsense to recognize a church as a state.
Last autumn, the Sunday Tribune reported,
‘More than €600,000 was spent at the embassy in the Vatican City, which some government critics have said should be closed. It is one of two embassies maintained by Ireland in Rome at an annual cost of €2.5m. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not possible to shut either of the two embassies as the Vatican would not accept an ambassador who had the same address as the embassy for the Italian Republic’.
They would not accept it? What would they do about it?
Were it to save €1 million a year, that would be just 1% of the revenue of a €100 household charge, but would be an indication that the government was really cutting back on things that didn’t matter in order to protect our people.