Monday 19 February 2018

Ability to pay tax not mentioned

Sir -- As Minister Phil Hogan spelled out the details of his Household Charge in the Dail, with the stress and emphasis on fines and punishment for non-payment, it became worrying that the failure to relate liability for the new tax to "ability to pay" will expose many to the rigours of those same draconian enforcement plans. We are now back to Victorian times where a government sits easy with a scenario whereby a person could end up in prison for having no money.

There are many lone parents and pensioners living in houses that they bought years ago and who have seen their incomes cut to the bone in recent times, for a range of reasons, and who will simply not be able to pay the €100 charge. The most incompetent politician should have no difficulty seeing that and the crude disingenuous attempts to minimise the impact on those with little by describing it as "only €2 a week" is a frightening indictment of the Taoiseach's capacity to understand what living on the breadline is actually like.

It is hard to know which is worst, a government that cannot empathise with those who have little, or one which cannot anticipate the utter despair that will be created by the vista of pensioners and others of little means filing through the courts answering summonses for failure to pay a charge they cannot afford.

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