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christine
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Joined: 21 Nov 2005
Posts: 5467
Location: Hampshire

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:03 am    Post subject:
Isitfair
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he Isitfair Campaign began as a local action group in East Hampshire, protesting against the relentless inflation-busting hikes in Council Tax. We held our first public meeting in March 2003. After launching the Isitfair website we rapidly gained support throughout the U.K. and it was soon apparent that the demand for action on Council Tax was a national rather than a local issue. Our local action group became the hub of a nationwide campaign and three years on we have thousands supporters across the U.K. The Isitfair Campaign is non-party political and we send newsletters by e-mail or by post to our ever-growing membership.

Let me begin with a story of adjacent houses both in the same Council Tax band. A professional couple with a joint income of 50,000 occupies the first house; in the second house is a pensioner couple with an income of 10,000 who are ineligible for the means-tested Council Tax benefit. Both households receive a Council Tax bill for 1,200 - for the couple in the first house this represents 2.4 percent of their income, for the pensioner couple it's 12 percent. Why must the weakest carry the heaviest burden? The assumption that a house of today's value somehow equates to the residents' ability to pay is completely false. Some Isitfair members are paying in excess of 20 percent of their income in Council Tax.

Our campaign is for people of all age groups who are unfairly affected by Council Tax, although the media spotlight tends to fall on our pensioner members. Our main aim is to abolish the tax based on property values and replace it with one that is related to people's ability to pay from income. We are not against tax, but it must be fair for all.

In 1993 when the present system of Council Tax was introduced the level of tax was not a big issue. In 2007 it is now a sizeable and unbearable percentage of many people's income. Council Tax is based on the value of our property which, of course, does not provide any income to pay this ever increasing tax. Council Tax has more than doubled since 1997 and has been used as a stealth tax. The Government are scared stiff of the political fallout that would come from a small increase in Income Tax but are happy to sit back and watch Council Tax bills going through the roof.

So why do we believe Council Tax is a bad tax?

1) It takes no account of the income from which the tax has to be paid. Those with the smallest income (unless they're eligible for means-tested benefit) pay the highest percentages of it in tax. How can it be a good tax when it's so patently unfair on pensioners and the low paid?

2) Despite official claims that it's easy to collect there are hundreds of millions of pounds of arrears. Notably, much of that is owed by council employees. If they cannot pay it, what chance anyone else? So much for "easy to collect".

3) Council Tax benefit. There are around five million people receiving Council Tax benefit, and according the Government there are nearly two million more who should be eligible but are not claiming. The means-tested Council Tax Benefit system has been a failure but they are determined to keep flogging this dead horse. If the tax was related to income instead of property value the whole Council Tax benefits system would be redundant, saving tens of millions of pounds every year in administration costs alone. How can it be a good tax when these millions of people are obliged to claim means-tested benefits?

I completely fail to understand how our two major political parties can decide to continue with a property tax which is so patently unfair. They want to retain a tax where those with the smallest income pay the highest percentage of it in tax, while those with the highest incomes pay the least. So much for the caring and sharing society.

In 2003 the Audit Commission's report confirmed that the current Council Tax system is fundamentally flawed and open to manipulation by Government.

People who dare to register their protest against this present system of Council Tax by withholding a small amount now face the prospect of 28 days in a Category A prison, as evidenced by Rev. Alfred Ridley. Such draconian measures have strengthened the resolve of many campaigners who will not be browbeaten into submission by such bully-boy antics. We are law-abiding people and do not advocate non-payment of tax, but if an Isitfair member decides to take that route we will vigorously support and advise in every way we can.

he present Council Tax system is in crisis and action is required now!

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Christine
Founder Isitfair
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