Monday, August 25, 2008

Council tax and the sex lives of taxpayers

Now there's a subject that I didn't anticipate I would ever address in this blog. Council Tax.
I picked this up from the Sunday Times who reported on it yesterday. It's also covered in other media too.

If further evidence were required of the inability of tax policy makers to appreciate the consequences of their decisions, this is it. OK, it's not one of the taxes dealt with by HMRC but it could quite easily be so. The paper reports that:
Local authorities have adopted the techniques after the government urged them to carry out “spot checks” on properties where a single-person council-tax discount is claimed.
Given the transient nature of many relationships and households these days a tax system that provides for discounts if you CLAIM to be living alone is ripe for abuse. There are only three options;
  1. Reform the system
  2. Accept the abuse
  3. Discourage the abuse by checking up on people
And it is option 3 that is being followed here:
Undercover snoopers are being used to find out how often lovers visit and whether supposedly single residents are sharing a bed every night with the same person.
To my mind a system that necessitates such checks requires revision. It is a disgraceful intrusion into how people run their lives. I entirely accept that there is a high probability of widespread evasion and abuse of the current system. Even if these spot checks were morally justifiable they will not have enough of an influence on behaviour. As such they are all but pointless and will merely serve to increase the overtime claims of voyeristic Council staff.

The only logical way forward is to reform the system.

Don't hold your breath.


  1. Mark, you seem to have ignored a couple of facts:

    1. These people are breaking the law; and

    2. It's the honest people who are hit the hardest by this because they are paying the correct amount of tax.

    If they want to live together that's fine but they shouldn't don't expect the country to help finance their decision.

  2. Thanks for your comment Stuart. Entirely understand your point, indeed I agree with you.