Call for household charge boycott

 

Nine Opposition TDs have pledged to campaign against the controversial €100 household charge and said they will refuse to pay, even if they end up in court.

Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins and Clare Daly are among Independent and left-leaning members of the Dáil calling on householders to refuse to pay the it.

“The way this will be won is by a massive campaign of people power,” urged Mr Higgins. The Government has warned that failure to register for the tax, which comes into force in the new year, before the

March 31st deadline could result in a court appearance and fine of €2,500.

Minister for Environment Phil Hogan condemned the campaign as irresponsible and as a cynical PR stunt.

“This campaign by elected representatives is very irresponsible,” said Mr Hogan. “Particularly when it encourages people in what could be expensive court fines and late payment fees.”

He went on: “The nine TDs are irresponsible and are engaging in a cynical, emotive PR stunt and it is wrong for opposition TDs as legislators to encourage people to break the law.”

However, the Opposition TDs are hoping that if enough people refuse to pay, the Government will have no choice but to overturn the tax.

Mr Higgins and Ms Daly spent a month in prison after leading a similar campaign against bin charges in 2003. But Mr Higgins insisted the campaign need not go so far.

“As we’ve shown in previous campaigns, the people have the will to stand to the very end. Going to jail might seem a bit exotic. Nobody wants to go there. People going to jail does not win a campaign.”

Other TDs behind the campaign include Independents Thomas Pringle, Mick Wallace, John Halligan and Ming Flannigan; People Before Profit TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Joan Collins; and Seamus Healy from Workers and Unemployed Action Group/United Left Alliance. Several councillors also support the refusal to pay.

As the IMF agreed to release a further €3.9 billion in loans to the exchequer as part of the country’s bailout, the campaigners said the Government should be taxing the rich instead of low and middle earners.

“There are sections of Irish society that are getting away without paying their fair share,” said Ms Daly.

She warned the Government would keep raising taxes if no-one opposed it. “The Government sees a very large prize at the end of this battle,” said Ms Daly.

“If they can break the resistance that’s out there then they see a whole new tier of local taxations being opened up which will see ordinary people absolutely persecuted for thousands of euro. Not in a one-off fine but in an annual charge in terms of property and annual charges.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the household charge yesterday saying it would cost a household €2 per week.

He said the charge was expected to raise €160 million, which would go towards funding local authorities, including fire services, library services and water.

Meanwhile, landlords have announced they have no choice but to pass the household charge on to tenants.

The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA) said landlords have adopted the user pays principle, but insisted this was not a rent increase.

Chairman Stephen Faughnan said they have been stretched too far with previous levies imposed on them.

“It is unfortunate that we are forced to pass on these charges, but with the huge burden of levies, taxation, compliance foisted on landlords in recent times, we have no pot of gold to absorb any more,” said Mr Faughnan.

The IPOA said landlords will also be forced to pass on the €200 Non Principal Private Residences tax that came into force in 2009, which combined with the household charge will see tenants paying an extra €300 a year.

PA