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Penalised for living in a prosperous, low-crime area

According to the Sunday Telegraph, a new way of calculating how council tax (local government taxes) are set will take account of aspects of a locality such as crime in setting the tax band. The nicer and less crime-ridden the area, the higher the tax you pay. Areas such as Chelsea and Westminster (I live in the latter area) will see their tax bills soar, while presumably if you live in a place such as Hackney, one of the most deprived and crime-ridden areas, your bill goes down. Marvellous. This is hardly an incentive for people to help curb crime and contribute to making their neighbourhoods more pleasant places in which to live.

One of the tropes of the MSM in recent years has been how the present New Labour government has turned away, in part, from the politics of punitive taxation as practised by Labour governments in the past. This is more about image than reality, however. Inheritance tax is biting into a broad swathe of the affluent middle class, the sort of folk that switched to Labour in 1997 or simply refused to vote for the Tories. Now Labour, in order to finance the swelling ranks of public workers, is proposing to hammer those same classes again. Even the Tories, who have been supine on the tax issue under the leadership of David Cameron, have started to kick up a stink on this issue.

The increasingly intrusive powers of officials in judging the values of our homes, coupled with this latest threatened increase, promises to be a gift to the Tories, if only they have the cojones to play the issue properly. The threatened increases are likely to hit precisely those marginal constituencies that the Tories must take from Labour to stand a chance of winning the next election. This does not look very intelligent from Labour’s point of view.

13 comments to Penalised for living in a prosperous, low-crime area

  • RAB

    A trifle optimistic there Johnathan!
    If you live in Hackney presumably your bill goes down.
    A flock of porkers have just gone past my window!
    I always thought that the Poll tax was very logical and fair. Much fairer than being based on the value of your house. But it led to riots. I wonder if we will have riots when an army of prod nozed bastards from the council turn up with cameras and want a look round your house?

  • Midwesterner

    RAB, it’s happened here. Usual public attendence at our Town Board meetings is maybe 10-15.

    After the property tax assessors decided to tax the campers in the campgrounds, we had about 100 people come to a meeting and they had to arrange for a law enforcement officer to be present during open book*, etc.

    *In open book, in order that you know you are not being cheated, you get to look at everybody elses property value appraisals. And they get to look at yours.

    Property value taxes are the most consistent problem in the public forum. If you guys don’t have them now, avoid them like the plague. We now have approximately 10 jurisdictions that have property taxing authority over us. School districts, tech school districts, town services districts, fire protection districts, sewer service districts, special assessment districts, it goes on and on.

    We finally had to pass a state law slowing the rate of increases in these taxes. It works about like you would expect. It slows the tax bite. In actual truth, we rent our property from the government and as it goes up in value, so does this rent property tax to the detriment of anybody who’s income doesn’t rise as fast as their property’s value. They had to pass a law that farm land couldn’t be taxed at its true value because farmers couldn’t afford to farm anymore.

    It goes on and on without end. There are long lists of properties in the paper a couple of times a year as the government auctions off the property of people who didn’t/couldn’t pay their taxes.

  • This new law will also create an incentive in the good neighborhoods to report false crimes to the police in order to reduce their property taxes.

  • Marshall

    Over here in California, we had a bit of trouble with property taxes back in 1976. Retired relatives of mine were seing their property taxes increase by 30-50% each year, to the point where the taxes were larger than their pension.

    We had (what was called then) a “tax revolt” (which surprisingly did not involve violence), and limited both the property tax rate and the rate at which tax assesments could be changed.

    This has not turned out to be a perfect solution, but has certainly limited the amount of money that we pay in property taxes.

  • RAB

    Something just occured to me.
    I live in Bristol. Lots of old buildings.
    Looking at some of them you come to see that what should be windows, are the filled in space of a window.Covered in brick, but with the outline of the- light immiting source, i.e. the window (stay with me now!) once was.
    Why would you cover up a joy to your soul and an eye on the wall to the outer world ?
    Answer A stupid tax on windows!!!
    Lord forgive Politicians
    They know not what they do!

  • The nicer and less crime-ridden the area, the higher the tax you pay.

    Should please the residents of M14 in South Manchester. They’ll be entitled to a few grand a year from the council at least.

  • B's Freak

    So the more you need services like the police the less you have to pay for it?

  • Let us look at this another way. The government is giving a tax break to criminals. Literally.

    Oh God.

  • Midwesterner

    The government is giving a tax break to criminals. Literally.

    It’s called a ‘professional courtesy’.

  • veryretired

    Ah, Mid, that was a nice shot—right to the heart of the matter.

    I recall someone once describing the battle during prohibition between the mobs and the enforcement agents as “sibling rivalry”. Sounds about right.

  • MarkE

    I’m negotiating with my neighbour what I can take when I rob him, and what he will take when he repays the favour. That should help.

  • It think this ruse is very clever. Not correct or right, just clever. It does what it says on the tin as MJ and MW say – punishes law abiding “rich” people and lets off the criminal and feckless.

    New Labour has found a way to milk the council tax system without risking a yob riot or losing too many votes.

    I wonder how many MPs actually PAY their council tax via their own earnings OUTSIDE of being an MP…

  • Isn’t it just another “progressive” tax?