Dangerous, false & misleading ‘legal advice’ on household tax exposed as fake


An email which has been circulating widely and has appeared on facebook and on many other social media sites, claiming to be from McCann Fitzgerald solicitors has been exposed as being fake.  The email claims that people won’t get a bill for the household tax because “the charge is a statute”.  It goes on to claim that because the tax is a statute it “only carries the force of law upon you if you consent to it” and that “If you do not consent [it] cannot affect you in any way whatsoever.”  

The Campaign Against Household And Water Taxes became aware of the existence of this email a number of days ago and immediately clarified the position from a legal perspective.  The Campaign issued advice that the claims in the email “are totally devoid of any legal merit”, and stated that because the Household Charges legislation has been passed by the Oireachtas and signed by the president, it is therefore the law.

Under law there is no direct contract between the government and each individual in relation to individual acts.  If there was, the logic would be that anyone could opt out of whatever act s/he wanted, for example someone could decide that s/he could drive without insurance.  In terms of the fake email and similar wrong advise being circulated a giveaway is the reference to Black's Law Dictionary 4th edition.  This dictionary does not in fact even refer to Irish law but rather is a US law reference dictionary!

The registration process for the household tax is simply a bureaucratic and logistical necessity (from the government’s perspective) as they don’t currently have a centralised database of property ownership – which they need in order to be able to impose the property and water taxes.  So the registration process does not differ the household tax from any other legislation.


In the last couple of days this email has gone viral on social media sites – to the extent that people have begun to raise it at public meetings hosted by the Campaign and with members of the Campaign on street stalls and at protests.  On Wednesday evening (22nd Feb) it was brought to the attention of the Campaign that it had been posted on a number of facebook pages purporting to come from McCann Fitzgerald solicitors. 

On Thursday morning a representative of the Campaign contacted McCann Fitzgerald and brought this to their attention.  The law firm immediately said that the email had not originated with them and, in a statement posted on its website it said it is “….investigating how our name has come to be associated with the memorandum/e-mail…” and advised “….all media that they should not distribute, or permit the distribution of, this memorandum/e-mail.” (see http://www.mccannfitzgerald.ie/news-media/news/article/4046/statement-from-mccann-fitzgerald.aspx)


The fake 'advice' contained in this email is not only wrong but is dangerous as well. In the next 4 weeks 1.7 million householders will decide whether or not to register.  The majority of these will make the decision to refuse to register and make a stand in solidarity with their neighbours against this unjust tax.

People who refuse to register are committing an offence and could be liable to prosecution so it is important that they do so with proper information.  The fact that they will be committing that 'offence' in the company of hundreds of thousands of other people and that we can stand in solidarity with each other is our only defence. 

Those who don’t register could be liable, under the legislation, for a fine of up to €2,500.  But this is not an automatic fine.  Under the legislation people who don’t register have to be brought to court and have a case proved against them that they did not register. 

Strength in numbers

This is where our strength lies in our numbers - If we have several hundred thousand and maybe even up to or over a million households refusing to register, they cannot take everyone to court.  And by building a mass campaign we can ensure that we have the best legal advice and support for anyone who is taken to court.  By challenging cases, we can ensure that the system becomes completely clogged up. 

If anyone is taken to court, the cases will be turned into occasions of massive public protest.  Just as happened during the campaign against water charges in the 1990s, if someone in an area is taken to court, the Campaign will have to organise to ensure that hundreds of fellow non-payers turn up to support them.  Large, angry protests will allow people the opportunity to show their disgust at the government for taking ordinary householders to court over this issue while the banker and developer gamblers who wrecked our economy and society are allowed to walk away while we are expected to pay their debts.

Putting our faith in some rubbish which amounts to saying that if we cover our ears and pretend government doesn't exist it won't be there is both foolish and dangerous.

By organising together and building solidarity this tax can be defeated.

(This false theory originated with the Freemen of The Land Movement – a grouping which claims to use a particular interpretation of the legal system against the government in the name of gaining back freedoms and advantages.  For a critique of the Freemen movement see http://www.wsm.ie/c/anarchist-critique-freeman-movement)

Read more about the struggle against the Household tax