Hundreds attend CAHWT National Forum

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From across the country, over three hundred members of the Campaign against Household and Water Taxes attended an open discussion in the Red Cow, Tallaght about the future of the campaign as it faces into a new phase of opposition in 2013. The numbers attending far exceeded the organisers’ expectations and delayed the start of the meeting for half an hour.

The first session considered the primary features of the new property tax legislation. While the commentary of the subgroup on the legislation is available elsewhere, two key points emerged from the discussion. Firstly, on the provisional advice of legal counsel, it would appear that while the Revenue will be able to deduct the property tax at source (income, welfare, grants etc), they will not be able to deduct any additional penalties for non-compliance in the same way. Court orders would be necessary. Secondly, the 1st of July - the date when the new property tax becomes payable – looks set to be the key date that the campaign must work towards in terms of generating non-compliance.

The second session discussed how the campaign should respond to the legislation. There was a broad consensus that while continuing to boycott the property tax is essential the campaign must become more active and generate more popular involvement. Speakers from the floor diverged on a range of strategies, including mass demonstrations, occupations, strikes and, predictably, running campaign members as candidates in the next local elections.

While agreeing with the need to mobilize thousands on the streets, WSM members involved in the campaign emphasised the importance of functioning local campaign groups that meet regularly and act locally as the best means of building for mass demonstrations and, most importantly, of defeating the tax. WSM members also called for regional (rather than Dublin-centric) demonstrations on any proposed National Day of Action such as may occur on March 23rd, a Europe-wide day of protest.

The draconian powers given to the Revenue Commissioners clearly shows the difference in approach to taxation that the State takes between capital (wealthy non-domiciles and multinational corporations) and labour (you and me). Far from being intimidated by these measures, we should view them as indicating the success of the CAHWT in generating widespread non-compliance through 2012. The 50% of households that continue to boycott the household tax – combined with the increasing numbers of people who simply cannot afford to pay it – provide an objective basis for remaining optimistic about and committed to the campaign. The next meeting of delegates to the National Steering Committee will take place on January 26th.

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