Thursday, February 28, 2013

Many UK councils expect majority to pay no council tax

First, a story from Detroit.
"Nearly half of the owners of Detroit's 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city's taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.

Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found.
And now, a story from the UK's Guardian, headlined Up to 84% on low incomes will not pay council tax, local authorities believe:
"Local authorities have conceded that up to 84% of people on low incomes will refuse to pay council tax after being caught in the net by benefit changes this April, and admit there is little they can do about it.

Ministers have cut the support for means-tested council tax benefit by £500m, and told local authorities to decide where the axe should fall."
The text of the article doesn't support that 84% as a blanket figure, but it still makes horrifying reading.

We don't look kindly on non-taxpaying by anyone, but we do fight as hard as we can for a tax system that doesn't (as the U.S. and British tax systems increasingly do) unfairly shift the burden of taxation away from those most easily able to pay -- those whose tax bills (if any) will result in their buying a slightly less grandiose yacht -- onto those least able: those whose tax payments mean fewer slices of bread and butter in their childrens' stomachs.

It's truly appalling what is happening in these two countries, as in many others. Britain's leaders are at least now talking the language of tax justice, though talking with rather bifurcated tongues

We have seen words from the politicians. We now want to see action. As a sign of the government's sincerity, it should this monstrosity, for example, into the rubbish bin. Until we see such monsters being demolished, we'll keep making comments about forked tongues.

The politicians are being led by pressure from the streets - which is just how this should work in a democracy. Keep the pressure building.

Today's blogger is currently reading this book, The Great Tax Robbery by Richard Brooks. A relentlessly brilliant skewering of the entire tax philosophy underlying the tax policies of this UK government and the last. Anyone interested in tax justice in the UK has to read it.

(We will shortly be reading Over Here and Under-taxed, by TJN's own Richard Murphy, which is bound to be excellent too.)


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