Sunday 4 December 2016

James Downey: House tax just one battle in fight to end our woes

Published 21/01/2012 | 05:00

THE history of taxation in our distressful country is discouraging for anyone who thinks that the system should be rational and fair and in accordance with some sensible government plan for running our affairs.

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You probably don't remember domestic and agricultural "rates". This was a most unpopular tax, but it had its merits. If you want to avoid taxes, you can hide wealth. You can't hide a house or a field. And if you couldn't afford to pay, you got an exemption.

Trouble was, by the 1960s the system was hopelessly out of date. It was based on the "Griffith valuation" of the 19th Century, itself based on the supposed letting value of a property. It badly needed reform, which meant recruiting an army of lawyers to work out the new valuations.

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