Mid-December saw the eventual publication of the long-threatened household tax legislation. The first three months of 2012 will present every household in Ireland with a choice: whether to succumb to this new home tax, which along with the proposed water tax will rise to approx Ä1,200 per annum within a couple of years, or to refuse to register, refuse to pay and make a stand against the costs of bailing out bankers and developers continuing to be hoisted on our shoulders.
Much has been made in the media coverage of the threatened €2,500 fine for people who refuse to register for this new tax. But as the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes (CAHWT) organises throughout the country we can all stand together and ensure that individuals cannot be targeted by the government.
There is no legal obligation on anyone to register for this tax until 31st March. So if we don’t register through January, February and March and arrive at late March with at least a million households unregistered (government plans are to make 1.6million households pay), we will then be in a massively strong position.
As a group, as a collective of households standing together, we will be able to say to the government: ‘your tax is unwelcome, we’re not going to pay it. Are you willing to take all of us on?’ The legal system will be incapable of processing cases against one million householders for refusing to register. Other government threats such as stopping the money from our wages, social welfare payments etc. can also be dealt with by us as a million-strong group.
A ‘Not registering, Not paying’ collective of one million plus households by mid-March might seem like a mammoth task. But it is in fact very achievable. Already the CAHWT has begun organising throughout the country. In areas outside the main cities and towns, the campaign is also taking on the issue of resistance to payment of the new septic tank registration charges. Public meetings have been held and organising groups established in many areas and are planned in many more for the coming weeks.
The key to achieving the target of a million plus households resisting this tax is mass participation, we need huge numbers of people involved, not just in refusing to register/pay themselves, but in convincing and organising others to do so as well. This campaign cannot be built by a small number of ‘leaders’ or politicians, no matter how well intentioned they might be. Building it needs a lot of ordinary people, just like you, to get involved.
Imagine its building as being like a giant benign pyramid scheme in operation. If during the month of January 500 people get out in their local areas and knock on 50 doors each, we will have spoken to 25,000 households. (If the average conversation takes approx 5 minutes that will involve a maximum of 6 – 8 hours work for each of those 500 people). If we convince 20,000 of these 25,000 households to agree not to register and not to pay, and then convince 1 in 4 of these to themselves get out and knock on another 50 doors each, we could conceivably have knocked on and organised 250,000 households by the middle of February and 1.25million by early March.
Of course if we can start off with more than 500 people at the beginning of the pyramid, we will get to the base of mass participation even quicker. But the key to this happening is that we don’t all leave it to ‘someone else’ to do it but that we each get involved in organising the campaign in our own areas to the extent that each of us can.
Many people might feel intimidated or nervous about the idea of knocking on neighbours’ doors about something like this. But among those involved in getting the campaign off the ground there are many people who have previously been involved in similar campaigns such as the successful battle against water charges in the 1990s. These people are available to support or help the establishment of campaign groups in any area and to provide help/support/training to people to do the necessary door knocking.
So if you feel that this tax needs to be defeated, it’s over to you (with help and support of course). If there’s a campaign group established in your area, get involved and do your bit. If there is no campaign group established in your area yet, please contact the campaign through its website (www.nohouseholdtax.org), facebook page (search for ‘Campaign Against Household And Water Taxes), by phone/text (086 7389943) or through the Workers Solidarity Movement.
You will be put in touch with other people in your area, given whatever support or help you need, provided with material (Leaflets, newsletters, ‘We’re Not Paying’ window posters and car stickers and campaign membership cards are all available) and you will do your bit to defeat this tax. Victory can be ours!