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We all have to declare income

Sir -- I found it hard to believe that the letter from James J Heslin, 'Pensioners won't forget', (Sunday Independent, Letters, January 22, 2012) was accorded the 'letter of the week'. Surely there were some inaccuracies worthy of a mention.

In fairness to the Government, the additional taxes are required to keep us afloat -- irrespective of where they are sourced. The taxing of State pensions is not new and each individual, irrespective of age, is required to declare all sources of income to Revenue. The problem from Revenue's viewpoint is that the only people required to lodge annual returns are those taxpayers under the self-assessment system, known as 'Chargeable Persons'. Taxpayers under the PAYE system are required to lodge tax returns when requested to do so by Revenue. Generally, taxpayers who have a personal pension fall under the PAYE system. These taxpayers more than likely have never lodged a tax return declaring the additional tax due on the Department of Social Protection pension which they have been receiving on top of their personal pension. It is unfair to label this as an additional tax.

Where I have great problems is with the household levy and septic tank levy. This year the levy being gathered is to fulfil a need for the local authorities to create a database of household owners. Surely such a database is already available to the post office under the TV licence scheme. The Minister and the Taoiseach have emphasised that the household levy is in the order of €2 per week. Such an off-the-cuff statement is disingenuous to those people who would like to pay the levy at the rate of €2 per week but are precluded from doing so. To those people genuinely trying to make ends meet, such an imposition of €100 by March 31 is grossly unfair. Genuine cases should be allowed to spread the cost over 12 months without penalty. Also, why not collect the levy through the Motor Tax Offices, which are ably equipped to deal with cash receipts irrespective of the amount.

This levy will be increased annually over the next number of years to an average of, I suggest, €600 per household. The suggestion is that the ultimate levy will be based on house valuations. I feel this is the wrong way to calculate the levy. The levy should be based on the number of square metres per house and a rate applied accordingly. Those with smaller houses would have less to pay than those with larger houses. Maybe this would be a more equitable way of charging property tax and probably less controversial.

Paul Coughlan,

Ballygawley, Co Sligo

Sunday Independent