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Tax penalty risks winding up public

The longer the household charge fiasco drags on the more inept this Government appears. It is now clear that this measure was introduced with very little -- if any -- advance planning and, confronted with the consequences of its own ineptitude, the Government seems determined to make an already bad situation even worse.

Now, instead of taking steps to extricate itself from a mess entirely of its own creation -- might it not be a good idea to allow people to pay the charge along with their other bills at the nearest post office? The Government seems determined to dig itself even deeper into the morass.

As we report in today's paper, the Government has, in a move that will infuriate even compliant taxpayers, decided on a €10 penalty for those who don't pay the second-home charge online. No one will need any reminding that the household charge was largely modelled on the second home charge.

While there might well be a perfectly justifiable case for encouraging people to pay the second-home charge online, the Government hasn't made that case. Instead it has sneaked out this punitive measure with no advance notice. If the Government was seeking a way of deliberately antagonising public opinion even further it could not have done better.

Truly, those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad!