This is fascinating from Polly

He knows council tax is not the fair way to raise funds:

The tax to fund councils is not the way to fund councils?

This from Polly, who tells us that property is hardly taxed at all in Britain?

50 comments on “This is fascinating from Polly

  1. “He will raise council tax by 15% (£190 a year on a band D home) which, under David Cameron’s unjust law, requires a referendum…”

    She really hates giving people a say in anything, doesn’t she?

  2. What Julia said. Why shouldn’t local government be forced to ask their voters before raising their taxes?

    It raises the obvious question of what a fair way would be. Taxes on people far away about whom we know nothing?

  3. I live in Surrey.

    I’d like the shortfall to be made up by an additional tax on Guardian ‘writers’. Clearly, there is no need to ask their opinion of it.

    Just do it.

  4. This from Polly, who tells us that property is hardly taxed at all in Britain?

    Well, certainly foreign properties aren’t.

  5. Much as we don’t like tax, the current arrangements do suck. Banding based on an assessment in 1991 I believe, with no one willing to suggest re-banding as it’s too unpopular.

    A local income based tax, probably with a county and district element (or equivalent in unitary and city authorities) set by the council with no limits set by central government would be my suggestion. If the voters think that tax is too high (or indeed too low as services are very poor) then they can vote the councillors who set the tax in or out at the next election. Or move to an area where the council isn’t run by idiots – not an easy find in some parts of the country I grant you.

  6. @smfs, because california. Where they had so many referenda to increase spending but against raising taxes to pay for said spending.

    It’s the fundamental problem with democracy.

    Behind the snark, pollys (on this rare occasion valid) point is that council tax is regressive. Which I’d have thought even the alt right could agree is a bad thing.

  7. @AndyH

    Problem with a local income tax is that we are rapidly reaching the point where 50% of the adult population pay no income tax at all. Ask them if they’d like a local income tax of 35% to pay for council cleaners to come in and clean their homes for them and give them a back massage afterwards and they’d be voting for it.

  8. “set by the council with no limits set by central government”

    The Boundary Commission will be meeting every three months.

  9. @Andy H
    If we had local income tax we would also have a lot more administration. I rent out rooms sometimes for a just a few months, how would they pay it?

  10. “Behind the snark, pollys (on this rare occasion valid) point is that council tax is regressive. Which I’d have thought even the alt right could agree is a bad thing”

    All councils need to be got rid of–but you can be sure that ain’t Pol’s message.

  11. Bloke in Germany,

    “Behind the snark, pollys (on this rare occasion valid) point is that council tax is regressive. Which I’d have thought even the alt right could agree is a bad thing.”

    No, it isn’t. Taxation based on land use (and council tax is mostly based on land use) is about the least worst way of taxing people.

  12. I thought Polly supported wealth taxes? The community charge is not perfect but house values are a good proxy for realtime wealth.

  13. Has anyone had a deep dive into the council Polly holds up a an example to see if they are actually right that there’s no more they can cut?

    Because I bet there is…

  14. Surrey council could stop promoting golf for the over-50s using public funds. The free market has got this covered.
    Public lending libraries too.

  15. I was a big fan of the Poll Tax, but the councils took the piss. Two adults in a modest 1960’s estate house were going to end up paying more under the poll tax when the total number of payers in the catchment doubled (as was mooted here)? Nonesense.

    There are multiple systems of taxing the populace, and many of them are arguably more (or less) fair. What can’t be fair is that each is considered separately so that it isn’t regressive, then the whole lot are compounded up one on top of the other. Then, some folk pay mountains of money and others far less – in total or proportionately.

    AndrewC was dead right that zero tax payers don’t give a flying fuck what the tax rates are. This is where Osborne was a dolt in taking the very lowest paid out of tax altogether: he reinforced the army of people who can’t see anything wrong with punitive taxes on anything and everything. In my view, all tax allowances should end, and if one tax rate goes up, they all should (and vice versa). That would give the entire populace an incentive to want the lowest possible tax rates.

  16. Witchie, the poll tax came in the year I started work full time. It was 4 adults in our house paying it, and was over 3 times the amount the household paid in rates the year previous.
    My poll tax was about 10% of my net earnings. Now 25+ years later my council tax is about 10% of household income. Nothing much changes it appears…

  17. @Witchie

    The people lifted out of income tax by Osborne are likely going to be partly on benefits and, so, subject to withdrawal rates which are no different, from the recipients perspective, to eye-watering tax rates.

    I’ve never met these people who vote for ever-higher taxes on earnings. And it’s a long time since a government has explicitly done it (they’ve all mucked about with NI). If it was such a vote-winner, how come nobody is promising to do it?

    The tax-raising cheerleaders seem to be well-off labourites who just want the pip-squeezing to start at fifty quid above their own pay. Not the people Osborne was trying to help out.

  18. witchie

    This is where Osborne was a dolt in taking the very lowest paid out of tax altogether: he reinforced the army of people who can’t see anything wrong with punitive taxes on anything and everything. In my view, all tax allowances should end

    You’d need a transition – for low paid sectors like hospitality etc – but what’s wrong with a flat tax (say 25% combined with ee’s) and without any personal allowances at all?

    Purely for the simplification? No tax codes etc. Just think how many payroll bean counters could be more usefully employed? A company simply takes 25% off any salary payment to any individual (like a basic witholding tax).

    If paying taxable benefits, the company can gross them up and pay the witholding tax.

    Job done, except “perhaps” for a higher rate tax just for those few on say > £100K or £200K or whatever?

    Not enough tax collected? No problem – Ecks has that covered.

  19. @BiW,

    But it’s not a land value tax. It’s a tax on how posh your property was 26 years ago. With an upper band that rather a lot of properties, from a flat in Walthamstow, to Buckingham Palace, all fall into.

  20. The worst flaw of council tax is surely that people in Hartlepool pay twice as much as people in Wandsworth. That’s about as far from a land value tax as you can get.

  21. So if councils added a few more bands and/or changed the band a house is in when it changes hands, council tax could easily be made more progressive. It is easily administered. Very little slips through the net. Much better than invoice tax in those respects… Cue DBCR

  22. @Andrew M – curiously a FOI request came out for Hartlepool earlier this month – the lefty council issues around 10,500 court summonses a year for non-payment of council tax and business rates. The population is exactly one English constituency. That is a lot of oppression.

    There seems a strange contradiction in play – income tax, VAT and fuel duty tend not to be noticed as it’s included in the price, or you get your earnings net. This is efficient and ‘good’ and enforcement costs are low. But low earners must feel the pain of being taxpayers so we make tenants liable for council tax, rather than landlords ( who would raise the rent level accordingly and stick it on their tax return ). I just don’t see the need to make some parts of taxation painful to implement, so that people feel it, and for the part of taxation that is chosen to achieve that to be the most regressive.

  23. BiG – because california. Where they had so many referenda to increase spending but against raising taxes to pay for said spending.

    Sounds like a failure in question-setting, not in democracy.

    Julia – Indeed. There is always more to cut. I bet any council in the country could save 10% simply by cutting things that are utter bullshit.

  24. Andrew M,

    “The worst flaw of council tax is surely that people in Hartlepool pay twice as much as people in Wandsworth. That’s about as far from a land value tax as you can get.”

    A large part of that is how much central government gives in grants. If Wandsworth had to pay for its own schools and hospitals, the council tax would be far higher.

  25. @Julia and MC

    Indeed. Start with:

    HR
    Diversity
    Equality
    Climate Change

    While any of those are being funded, there’s clearly no shortage of funding.

  26. “Surrey council could stop promoting golf for the over-50s using public funds. The free market has got this covered.”

    WTF. With the exception of a few prestigious golf clubs most are desperate for new members and have quite large marketing budgets. Councils do not need to be wasting money there.

    Anyway, anyone who has reached the age of 50 and isn’t aware that golf is an option as they retire is a moron and we don’t want them on our golf courses, thank you.

  27. Sorry, but what’s the problem with council revenue taxes being regressive? ( I presume that’s the made up word for non-redistributing?) Redistribution from the rich to the poor goes on at national level in national taxes. Why would you want to have another bite of the cherry at local level? Effectively you’re making a nonsense of national taxation policy.

  28. RE: Local income tax. Imo it would be a good start to have HMRC collect the money as they do now and simply send the revenue to your local council rather than Westminster.

  29. I’m making a nonsense of national taxation policy?

    Ahahhahahahhahahhaaaahahahaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. BiG: because california. Where they had so many referenda to increase spending but against raising taxes to pay for said spending.

    Rather the other way around, dude. The referenda in California have been aimed at controlling taxes so that they don’t go through the roof (so to speak). Unfortunately the politicians in Sacramento feel under no obligation to keep their spending under control and use all manner of tricks to increase it.

    What really happens in California is that the population tells the politicians, “This is how much we’re willing to spend. Give us as many things as you can afford within this budget.” And then the politicians go and make all manner of promises and spend money on all kinds of things that the population likes, without ever admitting that the only way that it can be done is by cheating on the accounting and racking up unfunded liabilities (pension obligations, for example) that will at some time in the future have to be paid for.

    Now you could argue that the population should understand that the politicians are lying bastards (they’re Democrats, after all) and should kick them out for failing to balance the books, but that’s hardly the same thing.

  31. The poll tax was not a bad idea it was badly implemented, the banding was poorly thought out and the usual suspects who pay zilch anyway kicked it into the long grass with their protests, the government were to blame for buggering up a better system.
    Now we have the same thing with council tax, only about 40% of households actually pay council tax, so once again the same people are paying for a majority on a free ride.
    It is always an amazement that any alternatives to the current system are deemed to difficult to administer or some other trumped up charge regardless of the merit of those schemes, a bit like actually presenting an invoice to foreign nationals taking advantage of our health service.

  32. Is there a point at which the California debt becomes so large that it will have to be kicked out of the US?

  33. I think that council tax was progressive, people with nicer homes in 1991 paid more – of course as revaluation has not taken place then it is not anymore.
    LVT would be a lot easier and fairer.

  34. It’s a good example of how the brain sees written language really. Unless you read the sentence one word at a time, very slowly, your brain probably saw the whole instantaneously and resolved the annoying typo for you without the bother of you even being aware of it.

  35. the lefty council issues around 10,500 court summonses a year for non-payment of council tax and business rates.

    Wow. Population of 92000 according to wikipedia. Assuming we can rule out multiple summons per person, and that adults are probably about 2/3 of the population, that’s about 1 in 6 of the adult population being summoned over council tax.

    This is also assuming every adult pays it. Some will be couples, others older children living with parents. Do old people in care homes pay it?

    It might get to about 25% of the adult population being summoned. Fucking hell.

  36. “HR
    Diversity
    Equality
    Climate Change
    While any of those are being funded, there’s clearly no shortage of funding.”

    Don’t councils have statutory duties on at least the last 3? If they tried to stop funding them they’d have SJW types taking them to court, and winning, because thats what the law says they have to spend money on. The problem lies with the laws put in place by Labour and which have not been repealed by our ‘Conservative’ government.

    Of course I’m sure many councils would continue to want to waste money on these items even if the law was changed, but at least if one did cut them they wouldn’t face legal challenges.

  37. I’ve harped on about council tax for years.

    If you’re going to have a propery tax, you set if at X percent of the value of the property, you don’t have bands. Set the value each time the property changes hands, taken straight from the land registry documents. Yes, there’ll be a bit of lag, but acceptable.

    Ok, if you really want bands, you have those bands covering as near as possible 100% of property values with each band containing close to the same number of properties, you certainly don’t have those bands putting 90% of properties in one band.

    Ok, if you really want nonsymettrical bands, you set the bands according to the areas that the tax is levied. The tax rate is set per council, so the banding should be per council.

    Ok, if you *really* insist on having bands, having bands that don’t cover the whole price range, having the same bands nationwide, then you have to review them every couple of years.

    What….???

  38. Garath: I did some research on local income tax some time ago, but it’s so long ago I have to send off to long-term storage…

    Basically, yes, the HMRC knows (statistically) everybody’s “home” council and would simply send the thruppence-happenny onwards.

  39. jgh

    “Set the value each time the property changes hands, taken straight from the land registry documents.”

    Corporates could suddenly look a lot more attractive..:)

    Ie, the property itself might never change hands again…

  40. PF – Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings would be a killer there – a flat charge for having a house in a company, on top of council tax.

  41. Pellinor,

    Good point.

    Though the lower level is currently £0.5m (?), hence, if one is under that, I guess some forward planning might be in order?

    But yes, all sorts of issues I agree, not least inept chancellors changing their minds / pissing with the system every five minutes.

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