#HouseholdCharge: Payment levels reach 1/3…

Thanks to Paul T for the heads up, but it seems that with just 48 hours to go a third of the eligible Irish population has now stumped up for the Household Charge…

Meanwhile judging by the reaction of one senior civil servant on Morning Ireland, the government are expecting a last minute rush of payments by post (over a million paper forms have been sent out, and only a fraction have yet been returned), intimating (though not saying it) that they will spend a great deal of next week catching up with a massive backlog…

So the deadline gets softened, allowing for last minute ‘repentance’ amongst the sinners… and easing the thoughts of those who (like John) are feeling like suckers right now for paying a tax a sizeable number of their fellow citizens will not…

It will be interesting to see just what the non payment rate will end at… Pearse Doherty was suggesting over 50% this morning, though others are speculating it may come down to a 1/3… Either way, it’s a mess. Fianna Fail’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath gives a relatively sober account of the government’s mishandling of the problem:

The Government, said Mr McGrath, had refused point blank to allow a waiver for people who had a genuine inability to pay.

Since then, he added, people had been given the wrong information and had been threatened, with genuine concerns dismissed out of hand.

Ministers, said Mr McGrath, had taken to the airwaves and publicly contradicted each other about the role of An Post, while people had been threatened that a council official would knock on their door to collect the charge.

Active Retirement Ireland and others had confirmed that fraudsters were knocking on the doors of vulnerable elderly people throughout the country looking for the €100, he said.

Mr McGrath suggested the only thing preventing people being allowed extra time to pay the charge was “the stubborn political pride of the Minister, Deputy Hogan and this Government’’.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Scáth Shéamais

    There is some confusion in PaulT’s post as there is a difference between registering and paying. There are 200,000 homes that are expected to register but won’t have to pay the charges.

    And even from those 1.6 million that are supposed to pay up, it’s not known how many have actually paid and how many have just registered. And anecdotal evidence would suggest that a number of households have registered under names like Mickey Mouse, and apparently even Phil Hogan has suddenly become a very popular name for heads of households in the South.

  • Mick Fealty


    The point being made on Morning Ireland was that 40% of people expressed a preference to pay by post, and yet only 17% of applications to register/pay have been received yet…

    What this really means is not going to be clear anytime soon. Not will the proportion that ends up in the protest column… But it’s likely to be sizeable.

    Those in support of the protest (either directly, or those encouragers from the rear) will want to claim the total figure…

    But for me, I think it raises more important questions about taxation in general, and the need, particularly in Ireland – but also more broadly – for a more open and honest debate about what taxes are for.

    Incorporated in that is a much higher degree of transparency over ‘levies’ and ‘charges’ which are merely intended to sweeten the blow.

    Ultimately these are merely disguising the fact that people are not actually paying enough to keep even the relatively level of service they currently enjoy…

    And for 32 county Republicans (if we genuinely still have any who go beyond the current de facto 26 + 6 formula), this raises a critical question of how on earth will a country which currently seems to have so many hangups about paying tax to government going to be able to raise the current levels of performance of the HSE to the level of an NHS?

    Because when it comes to it, that is likely to be a deal breaker for quite a few committed nationalists, never mind sceptical unionists. If you want an explanation for those Catholic Unicorns, you need go no farther.

  • Alias

    Michael Noonan has some useful data on the more pertinent “household charge” here:

    “The Central Bank’s Quarterly Financial Accounts data show that households had outstanding loans amounting to €184.9 billion in the first quarter of the year, representing 147 per cent of forecast GNP for 2011.”

    When that figure is considered as a proportion of disposable income it comes in at the highest ratio in the developed world – a whopping great 196%.

    It’s a case of squeezing blood out of a stone…

  • Alias

    In other words: for every one euro earned by a household another two is owed in debt.

  • Zig70

    In terms of strategy it is monumentally stupid. The government thought it was a low enough amount to not cause a fuss but it is a low enough amount to cost more than it is worth administrating and low enough for people to be willing to suffer the fines and fight it. I actually think the Irish will roll over again. Did FG never hear of the poll tax?

  • PaulT

    “are expecting a last minute rush of payments by post (over a million paper forms have been sent out, and only a fraction have yet been returned), ”

    think RTE were saying the figure is 600,000 but apparently another 50,000 today

    I wonder if this figure covers people who registered who aren’t liable (tenants etc)

    Also in anotherarticle….


    “An anti Household Charge march is underway in Dublin.

    The marchers left Parnell Square just after 1pm and have marched past the Custom House.

    They are heading for the Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the Convention Centre.

    In his opening address to the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last night, Enda Kenny appealed to people to pay the charge.

    Last night, Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, said that he thought Sinn Fein and the promised protesters should “get a life”.

    In response, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams accused the Government of being “in denial” about public feeling towards the charge.

    “Justice Minister Alan Shatter is telling us to get a life. He is obviously in denial about the kind of life this Government has imposed on the citizens struggling with austerity.

    “Fine Gael and Labour are in denial about the social consequences of their government’s policies.”

    Mr Adams added: “The unemployed, the families whose loved ones have emigrated, the households in mortgage distress, those on hospitals trolleys and low and middle income households struggling to pay increasing bills and make ends meet will not be celebrating the Fine Gael Ard Fheis.””

  • seamus60

    This Adams guy sounds like the real thing. If only we could get a few politicians like him up North.