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TheFlyingSquirrel
26th Sep 2005, 09:34
from Yahoo news....

Council Tax Rebel, 73, Faces Jail Term
Monday September 26, 07:19 AM




A 73-year-old pensioner is expecting to serve a seven day prison sentence for refusing to pay her council tax.Sylvia Hardy, from Exeter, says she can no longer afford to pay her tax bill and is pushing the government to change the system.She owes £53.71 from last year plus £10 costs.

In June, a court gave her two months to pay up - or spend a week behind bars.

Mrs Hardy has refused to pay the arrears in protest at above-inflation increases in council tax.

She believes the elderly now pay far too much in relation to their incomes.

"The hardest thing for me in prison will be the food," Mrs Hardy said.

"I have a number of food allergies, so I will not be eating much for a week."

But she added: "If what we endure is going to help achieve our aim we will all think it is worth it."

"Very often people have had to take drastic action to get bad laws changed."

Jordan D
26th Sep 2005, 09:40
Where do I send the cheque to cover her tax arrears & costs?

Jordan

eal401
26th Sep 2005, 11:53
She owes £53.71 from last year plus £10 costs
And that justifies a prison sentence? Even if only 7 days?

Disgusting.

I hope the judge responsible has his/her house broken into/car stolen/gets mugged so that they may understand the concept of a real crime.

Why is it no-one ever questions the councils who are so p*ss-poor at budget management that they feel it necessary to increase tax way ahead of inflation?

frostbite
26th Sep 2005, 12:05
Agree with the general disgust, but she must have a few quid - those on basic pension don't pay council tax.

eal401
26th Sep 2005, 12:08
Well, my salary does not rise in line with council tax inflation! I am sure whatever pension she gets doesn't either!

As I said, it is the financial numpties in the councils who should be taken to task. Council tax rises by double figure percentages every single year, mine certainly has. And yet local council services do not improve and in many cases reduce!

ORAC
26th Sep 2005, 12:18
It´s not the money, it´s the principle and a political statement. Multiple people have offered to pay the cost, she has refused to accept. Accordingly, the magistrates really had no choice.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sylvia Hardy, 73, from Exeter, Devon, was jailed for seven days by the city’s magistrates for defying an earlier court demand to pay £53.71 arrears.

She described the tax as a "daylight robbery" and, in court, told magistrates that the charge for her two-bedroomed flat had risen by 50 per cent since 1995, while her pension had only increased by 1.7 per cent a year. Miss Hardy said she was making a stand both for herself and hundreds of thousands of pensioners forced into financial difficulties. She explained in court that when the increase in her annual charge again outstripped the rise in her occupational pension last year, she refused to make up the difference and instead calculated her own bill linked to her pension. The shortfall was £53.71.

She told the court: "Letters and lobbying to MPs and councillors have fallen on deaf ears and all that is left is to take direct action, whatever the consequences. Throughout history, people have fought to change laws which are unjust, and often the only way to do this is to break the law or ignore it and to accept the punishment. That is why I am appearing here today to accept my punishment for desperately trying to salvage my ever-reducing quality of life. We are trying to bring home to central government and local government that if something is not done very soon to put right the many injustices the people of this country have to suffer year on year, the normally docile English people will say enough is enough and will all gather together in mass civil disobedience."

Miss Hardy said she had sensed for some time the anger which was in evidence in the community, adding: "I feel that an uprising is not far away." She went on: "If the sacrifice of my liberty for seven days does anything to force politicians to begin to serve those who elected them to office, it will be worthwhile."........

Magistrates, however, were unmoved. They told the spinster that she was not a martyr, adding that if others followed her example, the country would "descend into anarchy" - a state about which she would be the first to complain.

Louis Crowden, the chairman of the bench, said: "You have been given every chance to pay and have wilfully refused to do so. You may think you are a martyr but you are not, you are a foolish person.".......

The court had made Miss Hardy the subject of a 56-day suspended committal order in June. When she had still not settled the bill by the August 15 expiry date she put herself in line for the seven-day jail term. She was told that a telephone offer of payment for her outstanding arrears had been made, but she politely refused it.

airship
26th Sep 2005, 12:25
A lonely voice today but give it another 10-15 years. Most of us will be "Mrs. Hardys" then... :sad:

Curious Pax
26th Sep 2005, 12:27
A cynic might suggest that the sympathy for this lady breaking the law would not have been forthcoming from the same sources for those refusing to pay the poll tax around 15 years ago. Good job I'm not cynical!

For what it is worth I don't think that there is a fair system of local tax that isn't directly related to ability to pay - I believe local income tax should be the system. That system will also generate complaints, but at least they would be mostly from those whose ability to pay isn't the issue. Many argue that local income tax would mean local services being paid for by those who use them least, but that is true of any tax system, whether local or national. In my opinion it would be the least worst choice.

Mariner9
26th Sep 2005, 12:35
I'm not happy with council tax rises above inflation either, but that is not the issue here.


The thread is entitled "Jailed for standing up for her rights".

What right has she got to underpay a council tax demand?
Her age has nothing to do with it. Wonder if the views on here would have been the same if she was a 17 year old single mother.

I must be a miserable old git, but to my mind, the courts were very fair to her. She was only required to pay her arrears plus a measly £10 costs, which would in no way would cover the expense of the proceedings.

Beagle-eye
26th Sep 2005, 14:07
Don't know how it works in England but the scally’s in Scotland will often opt to take a 7 day prison sentence as an alternative to paying a fine.

This 7 days is automatically commuted to 3.5 days. Scally turns himself in to the police on Thursday and is taken to prison. Because there are no releases over the week-end (no staff) he is released on a Friday morning.

He has served his 7 days and his fine is wiped out.

The old girl could do the same

Mr Chips
26th Sep 2005, 14:09
Curious Pax this lady did in fact pay her council tax, but witheld a small portion of it, which she considered was unfair (council tax rises above inflation etc). This is vastly different to those who refused to pay anything at all

Curious Pax
26th Sep 2005, 14:16
Mr Chips,
They both decided to withold some or all of their tax as a political statement. That is their right, but there are consequences.

I think CND supporters witheld the proportion of their income tax in the 80s that they believed matched the proportion used for nuclear weapons - they also got short shrift.

paulc
26th Sep 2005, 14:18
as a local govt employee it irritates me when people blame the council when council tax goes up but have no understanding of how local govt is financed. Local authorities get most of their money from central govt and if this is not sufficient then the council tax is the only method by which income can be raised.
Money from central govt has to be 'ringfenced' for certain essential functions such as schools / health / emergency services /social services etc

A Conservative council in the south has no choice when its funding from central govt is reduced.

TheFlyingSquirrel
26th Sep 2005, 14:52
Anyone who has never owned anything has the right idea in the UK. I applaud people who go through there entire lives owning nothing. What you posses, posseses you ! As Dickens said, keep you property portable - I like that ! Good luck all you freeloaders - you're the smart ones !

TFS ( rant over ! )

Pilgrim101
26th Sep 2005, 15:22
Sorry, the old bint got what was coming to her....... Just imagine if all the honest, law abiding citizens in the Country objected to this Government, and by definition the blood sucking Councils, extracting the maximum cash from us for relatively little improvement in services..... just imagine ! :hmm: :hmm: :hmm:

Most OAP who have looked after themselves and paid their way all their lives are on rapidly eroding fixed incomes thanks to Brown and his tax and spend council acolytes.

Which explains the savage, vindictive sentence on an old lady, for that is what it is. If she had been a worthless, burglarising scroat she would have walked with a paltry fine with no intent to pay, without conscience and with no fear of being pursued by an otherwise sluggish legal system.

Gouabafla
26th Sep 2005, 15:31
My mam (we don't have mums where I come from) is elderly, stone deaf and registered disabled. Six months back she had a nasty fall which made her even weaker than usual. During her recovery she missed paying a council tax demand and follow-up bill. Last week she received a summons to court.

She booked a taxi (the only way she can travel) and went down to the council offices to explain. The guy behind the desk got his supervisor. The supervisor made someone fetch a nice chair so that my mam could sit down and then went off to read up on her case. Ten minutes later he comes back and tells her that he has cancelled the interest payments and extra charges for the late payments and that the summons has been dropped. My mam, who is a law abiding type, wrote out a cheque for the original bill and left feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

Local government people get a lot of stick. But this guy treated an old lady with dignity, realised that she was not in debt because of any fault of her own and cleared things up immediately. I reckon he should get a knighthood.

As I say, slightly off topic, but it's an old-lady-and-council-tax story with a nice ending.

X-QUORK
26th Sep 2005, 16:52
Whilst I do sympathise with less well-off pensioners to some degree, I believe the judge made the right decision to send this woman to prison. She decided to make a stand against something she feels is wrong and she gets my repsect for having the courage of her convictions to take it as far as she has, but the law is the law and she's broken it. Commit the crime and do the time.

I wonder if there would be as much sympathy if it was a young man trying to support a family and mortgage on a minimum wage being thrown in the clink? Some folks are allowing their emotional response (to protect the elderly) to cloud their judgements with this case.

TheFlyingSquirrel
26th Sep 2005, 18:27
Stop talking bollocks all of you - imagine if it was your grandma they were chucking to the wolves ! The woman is right to defend herself and her diginity. We have no choice but to watch these local councils squander our money time and time again on political correctness and wastage schemes - these are the only people guaranteed a pension - because whatever happens, we have to stump up for it ! I hope the old girl brings the system crashing down and helps to stop the rich/poor divide becoming wider than it was 100 years ago ! ( we're already at 60 ! )

TFS

Grainger
26th Sep 2005, 19:18
TFS has the right idea - what we should be demanding is that councils HALVE their costs. Not by reducing services, but by getting rid of waste and inefficiency.

In the private sector, it's not unusual for suppliers to be given such targets - provide the same product or service for 5% or 10% less than last year.

Let's demand this of our councils.

As for "the law is the law and she's broken it" I've just watched an episode of Rogue Traders where there were a couple of guys selling unroadworthy cars with clocked mileages and dodgy MOTs. Did they get locked up ? Did they f*ck.

People could have been killed, and who do we lock up - pensioners ! :rolleyes:

This country's gone to hell in a handbasket. Me, I'm off to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Let's face it, it'd make more sense than this lot.

eal401
26th Sep 2005, 19:29
I believe the judge made the right decision to send this woman to prison.
Presumably all the judges who hand out impotent ASBOs to yobs who then laughingly return to crime get a full round of applause from you?

People think it is right for this women to be in prison?!? I really didn't realise just how far down the toilet this country has gone.

And in response to this <edited because some poor little diddums found it "offensive"> comment:
I wonder if there would be as much sympathy if it was a young man trying to support a family and mortgage on a minimum wage being thrown in the clink?
Yes, there would be as much sympathy from me!

ORAC
26th Sep 2005, 20:03
Looked chuffed as hell on TV. I think she probably considers her sentence a fair swop for her 15 minutes of fame....

Nick Riviera
26th Sep 2005, 20:03
To all those who believe that this woman was rightly sent to jail, shame on you!! If you really want to live in a society that agrees with this kind of treatment then we might as well all give up now and hand the country to the yobs.

Krystal n chips
26th Sep 2005, 20:20
Nick,
In many respects we already have----some just work for the State and others in Local Government-----others, well, the others can be seen in our "society" on a daily basis.

Nick Riviera
26th Sep 2005, 20:59
KnC

Sadly, I feel you may be right.

Loose rivets
26th Sep 2005, 23:43
Mmmm. when a ‘senior officer’ earns more than a senior captain …. And has not a clue what to do about almost anything. Then I want to know where my property tax is going. ‘Rates’ silly name at the best of times.

X-QUORK
27th Sep 2005, 07:27
Oh dear me, it seems some on here get so excited that they forget their manners.

eal401, I suggest you go away and learn how to debate without hurling insults around, it doesn't do much for your credibility old man.

D SQDRN 97th IOTC
27th Sep 2005, 07:41
Sticking any granny in jankers for committing the heinous crime
of not paying the full amount of her council tax is madness. This cannot be seen as proportionate to the plethora of crimes (including violent ones) which go unpunished or where the criminals are awarded ASBO badges of "honour" .

Those of you that say she deserved it should be ashamed.

It is also ecomonic madness for the council / government. It costs a couple of thousand pounds per week to house inmates in the prison where she will be staying.

The law is being enforced against only those citizens who allow the law to be enforced against them. So if you're an "outlaw", you can stick two fingers up at the court and say "won't pay, can't be made to pay".

The source of these problems comes back to the government. Anyone remember someone lying to us a few years ago saying "no tax rises" ? Which was then interpreted to mean no more "income tax" rises. Other taxes however were raised and new taxes were invented. This country's electoral system voted this government in, and it thinks it has a mandate from the people to raise loads of our cash and piss a lot of it against the wall. The methods developed for wasting our cash are ingenious, and the blame doesn't just lie at the foot of the government. Councils have also been ridiculed in the media (but not by the Guardian) for their wastage on:
non jobs ("5 a day" consultants, real cotton nappy use promoters, etc.), and
unwanted services (take your pick - today's media name quite a few).
To fund this splurge of spending, and against a background of government cuts in grants - which by the way is so that the government can continue to stick to its deluded mantra that it hasn't raised income taxes (what a load of bollo with a silent "x") - the councils have to raise their council taxes.

I think what this lady is doing is the start of the worm turning.

Unwell_Raptor
27th Sep 2005, 07:56
The 'right' not to pay your taxes is an interesting definition of rights.

It's a bit odd though, that magistrates enforce Council Tax, car tax, and TV Licences, but not income tax VAT or any of the other plethora of taxes.

If anyone is that bothered about the silly old bat in the news (who seems to be having a whale of a time) why not have a whip round and pay the £50 for her? She could be out within an hour or two.

Davy_MC
27th Sep 2005, 08:02
I too agree that it is disgraceful that such an old lady be sent to jail for this, while muggers and burglars walk free.

However, maybe that judge is really on her side. Would we be arguing about this if she had walked free? At the moment she is a “tax martyr” and might be the first of many. It may just be the beginning of a ground swell of public passive action against council tax. If all the OAPs in the UK did the same thing the country’s prisons would run out of capacity in a matter of hours. What would the government do if faced with such a problem?

Good luck to her!

Unwell_Raptor
27th Sep 2005, 08:12
I too agree that it is disgraceful that such an old lady be sent to jail for this, while muggers and burglars walk free.

Er - they don't. Robbery (the legal name for mugging) and domestic burglary are treated extremely seriously by the courts. Magistrates would almost always decline to touch such cases but send them to the Crown Court, where sentences usually run into a few years.

Flap 5
27th Sep 2005, 08:15
X-QUORK,

As a local councillor I can say that yes these things are debated but the outcome has nothing to do with the arguments put forward in the debate. It is entirely decided on central government policy. You should go along to a magistrates court to see how they work. No matter how good the arguments the final decision is made on the basis of law only. These laws are passed by parliament, but we all know how much pressure is put on parliament by central goverment to pass laws (e.g. poll tax and hunting bill). In this case that means she is guilty regardless of the actual injustice of the decision.

Oh yes and manners, well everything is very polite in court. :*

X-QUORK
27th Sep 2005, 08:16
She's already refused offers from others to pay the debt for her. It's not that she can't afford to pay, she is making a political point here which is why she probably hasn't had much sympathy from the magistrate.

It's good to know that some of you would support and offer to pay my tax should I ever decide to stop paying on the grounds that I disagree with an element of government policy.

Flap 5

I think you might have got me confused with someone else, you and I are on the same side of the fence in this debate.

Flap 5
27th Sep 2005, 08:20
X-QUORK,

It was your reply to eal401 that prompted my response.

Mariner9
27th Sep 2005, 08:46
Presumably all the judges who hand out impotent ASBOs to yobs who then laughingly return to crime get a full round of applause from you?

Oh come on! XQ feels it was correct for the Magistrates to uphold the law. (I agree with him) But from that you presume that he supports "impotent ASBOs" for Yobs?

On what basis? XQ appears to support law and Order, so I would think it more likely he'd like to see any misdemeanor suitably punished.

The effectiveness (or otherwise) of ASBOs are nothing to do with this case.

Keef
27th Sep 2005, 08:54
She's making a point. If she chooses to make it that way, then good luck to her. There is a problem, somewhere in the system, that drives up council tax far faster than inflation or pensions increase. I blame the Government - they're supposed to have this thing under control.

A council not far from here spent a lot of money on an "air quality improvement action" otherwise known as a 40 speed limit on an open road, and spent some of that "hard earned council tax money" to put up "XXX Council: Nuclear Free Zone" signs all around the place. I notice one wag painted "Want a bet?" on several of them (wasn't me).

I think the short answer is that we get the government and local council officials we deserve. Would you want the job?

Greek God
27th Sep 2005, 10:21
My Council Tax 1995/1996 = £946
2005/2006 = £2137
112% in 10 yrs wish my salary had increased by the same amount:)

My hat off to her for taking a stand.

Mariner9
27th Sep 2005, 11:27
Playing Devils Advocate here...

Greek God, say your house value was £100,000 in 95/96, then you'd have been paying 0.946% pa rates.

According to house price calculator (http://www.nationwide.co.uk/hpi/) , your house is now worth £307,658, and therefore you only pay 0.695% pa rates.

Good value eh :ok:

Grainger
27th Sep 2005, 11:56
Big difference between paper value and cash in hand though, isn't there M9 ?

Selling the house and moving somewhere else wouldn't work since you'd have to pay just as much to buy elsewhere.

Besides which, GG is paying for services here, and the value of those services almost certainly has not doubled.

eal401
27th Sep 2005, 11:56
eal401, I suggest you go away and learn how to debate without hurling insults around, it doesn't do much for your credibility old man.
Sorry, I'm not the one celebrating a grandmother being put in jail.

She gets my respect because she has far more guts than I have to stand up for what she belives in. And far more guts than you.

Binoculars
27th Sep 2005, 12:31
OK, so we let everybody decide what percentage of council taxes/rates they are going to pay based on their own assessment of the quality of service provided. What a splendid idea. This is the idea of guts?

No doubt those supporting dear granny's rights are prepared to pay an extra 20% levy on your council taxes to cover the likes of granny who decide they just aren't going to take it any more?

And to those who support the old chestnut that paying taxes all your lives entitles you to live at the expense of those following you, I'm sorry but I just don't agree. It's a self serving argument which denies everything you have ever received from public money.

airship
27th Sep 2005, 12:38
If only official government figures concerning inflation truly reflected everyone's increased cost of living, whether retired and on a pension like Mrs. Hardy or anyone else here...?! Unfortunetly, they're all a sham. Designed to make governments look as if they're performing better than they are. And doing the best they can to disguise the upcoming titanic amalgamation of the standards of living for the great majority in the 1st World with those of the newer rivals in Asia: the only questions are how far and fast our own living standards will drop before the Chinese and Indians catch up... :O

When talking about inflation, it's important to know exactly what you're talking about. It might be worth pointing out that the UK government assumes under the CPI that you only spend the grand total of 10.5% of your (after-tax) income on the roof over your head including rent, electricity, gas, water and sewage... :rolleyes:

You really should download the official document regarding Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and Retail Prices Index (RPI): The 2005 Basket of Goods and Services (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/CPI&RPI_basket_2005.pdf) (106Kb).

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and weightings (NB. excludes mortgages)

1 Food & non-alcoholic beverages 10.6%
2 Alcohol & tobacco 4.6%
3 Clothing & footwear 6.3%
4 Housing & household services 10.5%
5 Furniture & household goods 6.5%
6 Health 2.4%
7 Transport 14.8%
8 Communication 2.5%
9 Recreation & culture 15.1%
10 Education 1.7%
11 Restaurants & hotels 13.9%
12 Miscellaneous goods & services 11.1%

More detail (extract):

Housing & household services (CPI weighting 10.5%) consists of:

04.1 Rents
Private furnished rent Private unfurnished rent
Local authority rent Registered social landlord (RSL) rent
UK holiday accommodation (self-catered)
04.3 Regular Repair and Maintenance of the Dwelling
04.3.1 Materials for Maintenance and Repair
Ready mixed filler Wallpaper
Wallpaper paste Paint
Varnish Paintbrush
Taps Ceramic tiles
Hardboard Softwood
04.3.2 Services for Maintenance and Repair
Fees charged by plumbers, electricians, carpenters and decorators
Hire of domestic steam wallpaper stripper
Gas service charges
04.4 Water Supply and Misc. Services for the Dwelling
04.4.1 Water Supply
Average water charges
04.4.3 Sewerage Collection
Average sewerage and environmental charges
04.5 Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels
04.5.1 Electricity
Average of the electricity companies’ tariffs
04.5.2 Gas
Average of the gas companies’ tariffs
04.5.3 Liquid Fuels
Kerosene
04.5.4 Solid Fuels
Coal Smokeless fuel

Do you see what I mean't about the roof over your head costing 10.5% of your income...if only?! :{

If you're paying a mortgage, you're much better off paying attention to the Retail Prices Index (RPI):

More detail (extract):

Housing
Rent
Private furnished rent Private unfurnished rent
Local authority rent Registered Social Landlord (RSL) rent
Mortgage Interest
Average interest payments on a typical repayment mortgage (estimated/modelled)
Depreciation
Depreciation costs proxy (price index for houses purchased with a mortgage)
Council Tax
Average council tax bills for households in Great Britain
Average rates bills in Northern Ireland
Water and Other Charges
Average water charges
Average sewerage and environmental charges
Repair and Maintenance Charges
Fees charged by plumbers, electricians, carpenters and decorators
Gas service charges
DIY Materials
Ready mixed filler Wallpaper
Wallpaper paste Paint
Varnish Paint brush
Various tools - eg hammer drill, screwdriver Aluminium ladder
Door handle Taps
Power point Ceramic tiles
Pieces of timber Hire of domestic steam wallpaper stripper
Dwelling Insurance and Ground Rent
Dwelling insurance premiums of selected companies
Ground rent proxy (price index for houses purchased with a mortgage)
Fuel and Light
Coal and Solid Fuels
Coal Smokeless fuel
Electricity
Average of the electricity companies’ tariffs
Gas
Average of the gas companies’ tariffs
Oil and Other Fuels
Butane gas Kerosene

There's also something called the RPIX (all items excluding Mortgage Interest Payments) (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/RPIX.pdf) (11Kb).

Confusing innit?! You could easily get the impression that governments can be very economical with the truth when it comes to talking about inflation... :uhoh:

JetBlasters in the US should read this Economist article (http://www.economist.com/finance/displayStory.cfm?story_id=4425575) In its statement this week the Fed stressed that core inflation—a measure that excludes energy and food prices—has remained relatively low, at only 2.1% over the past year. The core inflation rate was invented in the 1970s as a way to exclude the impact of temporary food and oil supply shocks, and so allow the Fed to focus on the underlying trend...
Stephen Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley, worked at the Fed in the 1970s under the then chairman, Arthur Burns. He remembers the dangers of core inflation. When oil prices surged in 1973-74, Burns asked the Fed's economists to strip out energy from the consumer-price index (CPI) to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children's toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly “distorted” by exogenous forces...
It is not only America that is experiencing creeping inflation. Economists at CSFB forecast that higher oil prices will push the euro area's inflation rate up to 2.6% this month. That may not sound so bad, especially when core inflation still remains well below the 2% ceiling of the European Central Bank's (ECB) target. However, the euro area's official inflation rate probably understates reality, because it excludes the costs of owner-occupied housing. Adding these in would probably push this month's inflation rate above 3%.

I realise that my post is a little long-winded for JB...but what the hell?! :ok:

wanderin_star
27th Sep 2005, 14:12
Perhaps if all these families on benefits and income support not paying anything should pay at least a proportion, then it would be a fair amount for everyone.

airship
27th Sep 2005, 14:23
...a proportion Wot would that be then...? :confused:

BenThere
27th Sep 2005, 14:51
California came up with the best solution I've seen so far in the early 80s. Property taxes (council tax equivalent) were fixed at 1% of the purchase price of the home and limits placed on increases to price indexes from that point. When the house was sold, the new taxes were assessed on the new purchase price.

It eliminated the elderly being forced out of their lifelong homes by constant reassessments at current market value, and created an incentive to stay put, a stabilizing factor in communities. People could plan on their retirements with more tax certainty, and government couldn't bail itself out of wild spending schemes by loading down property owners with onerous tax increases.

The usual big government advocates screamed bloody murder. We'd have to empty our jails, schools would have no funding, the poor would starve. Of course, none of this happened. Ultimately the government had to be accountable for how it spends limited resources, a process still on-going.

frostbite
27th Sep 2005, 14:53
Going a bit off-topic, and risking a grenade or two......

I always thought the poll tax was quite fair (if taxes can be fair).

teeteringhead
27th Sep 2005, 15:34
There's a useful summary on the woman's case (with which I totally agree) by a serving magistrate (and sometime ppruner) in a blog elsewhere on the net....

" The press and various bits of the Interweb have been getting terribly excited about the old lady who has just achieved a highly-publicised martyrdom by refusing to pay part of her Council Tax, and being sent to prison as a result.
It is a depressing insight into the standard of our press and of public debate that nobody so far has set out the choices faced by the magistrates, which were:

1. Send her to prison by implementing the suspended sentence that she had already been given

2. Tell her that she doesn't need to pay the tax because she is an old lady

3. Er - that's it

Every tax needs to be enforced by sanctions if necessary, because otherwise some people won't pay, and if those people get away with it, then nobody at all will pay."

Seems reasonable to me whether you agree with the tax or not......

airship
27th Sep 2005, 15:35
BenThere, It eliminated the elderly being forced out of their lifelong homes by constant reassessments at current market value, and created an incentive to stay put, a stabilizing factor in communities. Since when did a home become "lifelong"?! You yankees sound as if you're well on the way to your own 21st century feudal system IMHO... :( Especially if GWB gets his way with the abolishment of inheritance taxes :rolleyes:
Ultimately the government had to be accountable for how it spends limited resources, a process still on-going. And very relevant in today's democracies with all those "retired (or in the process of)" voters... :8 They're the ones who've had the benefit of social security all their lives and it ain't going to end anytime before they're dead, if they can help it.

I don't necessarily disagree, even though it does entail an extra degree of hardship like paying for someone else's expectations of retirement together with endeavouring to pay for one's own. But will the countries currently buying 1st World treasuries and bonds have the same opinion...?! :uhoh:

BenThere
27th Sep 2005, 16:05
Some homes are "lifelong". For example, my parents live in the farmhouse where my mother was born 86 years ago. Why should the government be able to force them to move by raising taxes to a level they can't afford? And what is feudal about that?

As for inheritance, the taxes on inherited wealth have already been paid. Some people eschew consumption in order to build and preserve an estate for their descendants. How is government entitled to that?

As for social security and pensions. They are worth no more than the promises made by governments and companies who may or may not have the wherewithal to meet them. I can't understand the resistance of those, especially younger, workers to putting some of their social security tax into their own account rather than into a government program not required to return it. What can they possibly be thinking?

X-QUORK
27th Sep 2005, 16:14
eal401

"Sorry, I'm not the one celebrating a grandmother being put in jail. "

Please point me to the part of my post which was celebratory.

Onan the Clumsy
27th Sep 2005, 16:56
Some homes are "lifelong". For example, my parents live in the farmhouse where my mother was born 86 years ago. Why should the government be able to force them to move by raising taxes to a level they can't afford? a nitpicking point perhaps, but when the ownership of the house changed from your granparents to your mother/parents that would be a time that the government could re-assess the taxes.

In any event, perhaps it is a good idea, but one thing it does do is to skew market values which can't be a good thing in a capitalist society. For all the cases of old (fixed income) people being able to continue living in their house, there must be at least some where old people are held prisoner in a house or neighborhood that they don't want because they couldnt' afford the tax increase were they to move. Conversely, there must be people whose houses are now more dificult to sell because either (i) some people (ie old ones) won't be a potential purchaser for the reasons given earlier, or (ii) the fact that the tax burden is not equally distributed means that is is elevated for this particular house, thereby reducing the number of potential purchasers.

In any event, the bedrock of capitalism is that market forces dictate prices. To allow for convenient alternatives is to allow socialism into the system. If the taxes are too high, people will leave the area and the market will adjust to suit.

Some people eschew consumption in order to build and preserve an estate for their descendants. How is government entitled to that? or to ask the question in another fashion, how are the descendents entitled to the inheritance of the preceding generation? To allow inheritance is to disavow the equality of opportunity which is another foundation of the US system.

I can't understand the resistance of those, especially younger, workers to putting some of their social security tax into their own account rather than into a government program not required to return it. What can they possibly be thinking? they might possibly be thinking about Enron, or MCI. If privatisation of social security is to be credible (to me at least) then I need the ability to invest my savings in my house or my own business and not a business run by other people for the profit of other people.

BenThere
27th Sep 2005, 19:26
Well argued points, Onan, but there are flaws in your argument.

In the case of my parents home, which is in Michigan, the taxes have gone up (and up and up). They now pay more in taxes than they paid to buy out my mother's siblings from the original purchase. But that has had no impact on the market value of the place. Even in the California tax structure, all new buyers have an equal, but predictible tax burden to consider in their purchase. The market value of a home is not affected by a unique tax status.

The disincentive is in moving in the first place. If they stay put, the tax is pegged to the value of the home when they purchased it.

On your other point, decendents are not entitled to the estate. The owners of the estate, on which taxes have been paid, may choose not to leave their wealth to their decendents. Equal opportunity does not mean everyone has to start at zero. The state has no claim on post-tax wealth passed on. Why should it?

Finally, Enron, Worldcom and all the other frauds perpetrated on investors amount to a pittance, far less than one percent, of the equity in US capital markets. It's incumbent upon those with financial assets to invest them broadly so as not to be crippled by the failure of a single company.

Investments in the S&P 500, the top 500 firms in the US, would be expected to return, by huge multiples, much more than investments in social security. Now that the original recipients, those who entered into benefits without paying a lifetime of social security taxes, are almost all dead, it is clearly a bad bet all around. Moreso for those with lower life expectancies, such as males, blacks, coal miners, et al.

When people have ownership in something, such as a stake in the US economy, as opposed to a promise from the government to pay their social security check, they will tend to be more protective of it, which is a good thing. Along with a better standard of living in their retirement, ownership in the economy and culture that supports it, they gain the realization that the money doesn't just come out of the blue, but someone is picking up the tab.

Onan the Clumsy
27th Sep 2005, 23:11
Thankyou for the compliment, though we may still have one or two differences.

btw, I feel the pain regarding property taxes. My main beef is the lack of accountability. In Texas, they regularly go up by over ten percent - in any event far outpacing inflation. You can decide to not pay them if you desire, but the penalty won't be jail time, instead foreclosure and you'd lose your house. I don't like the way the city 9especially) and the county are allowed to run the 'business' in a manner that me as a private businessman cannot. I would lose my customers. It's perhaps (?) impractical, but I think competition should be allowed and I should be able to say I lived in maybe Richardson instead of Dallas.

As for inheritance, we had a spirited thread a while back :p I understand the theory of creating wealth for the next generation, and would probably do the same if I *had* a next generation, however, short of simply saying I think yes, equal oportunity means everyone should start at zero I can't offer much other than a contradiction to your post. Perhaps I could frame it better if I said I sdee little difference between the parents and the state dolling out a huge chunk of money to someone who technically hasn't earned it. It goes against my sense of what capitalism really is.

Private investment accounts: a sad admission, but I really don't want the overhead of having to manage the funds. As for MCI, I actually used to work there, so had I invested, I would probably have lost significantly more than I did. In any event I am suspicious of the plan as it does not allow me a full range of options for my money. If it did, maybe I could support it. Like I said, I want to invest the money in my own business and I don't see any difference between that and a public company in the stock market.

"When people have ownership in something..." I would agree with your comments, however I don't see the average person really feeling that he should care about the source of mopney until the government does. I don't apply these comments solely to this particular government, as they all seem to do it, however it is a very ready example of the idea that maybe money does just come out of the blue.

Sorry for the length of this post.

ORAC
28th Sep 2005, 06:03
Council tax rebel released early (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4288530.stm)

Pensioner Sylvia Hardy has been freed less than two days into a seven-day jail term after an anonymous donor paid her £53.71 council tax arrears. But the 73-year-old, of Exeter, Devon, said she was disappointed she had not been able to serve her full sentence. "That's what I intended to do and I'm unhappy about the way this has been dealt with," the ex-social worker said......

She added she did not blame the prison authorities for her release from Eastwood Park Prison, in Gloucestershire, as they had been obliged to free her once the payment had been made.....

--------------------------------------------------------------

Well that´s nice of her. :hmm:

eal401
28th Sep 2005, 07:00
Please point me to the part of my post which was celebratory.
Why bother? You've made your mind up, regardless of what anyone says, hence what I wrote.

I suspect you may be a council worker....

SLFguy
28th Sep 2005, 07:34
Now the daft cow is out how about we don't collect her rubbish for a year.

Grainger
28th Sep 2005, 07:38
How about they collect her rubbish on time for once, and charge her the same as they did for the same crappy service last year ?

under_exposed
28th Sep 2005, 07:48
For those of you who have pointed out that tax money has been wasted by government/councils, how do you feel about the fact her employment was directly paid for by taxes before she retired?

Grainger
28th Sep 2005, 07:55
Um . . . much the same as I'd feel about a red herring. :zzz:

X-QUORK
28th Sep 2005, 09:50
eal401,

Suspect what you like chum, but I haven't worked for the government since I left the Forces seven years ago. Just because someone has an opinion at odds with yours it doesn't make them a council worker, just someone who doesn't want to see anarchy prevail.

wanderin_star
28th Sep 2005, 10:48
Yes bring back the poll tax - just wish those people who thought it was fair tax had shouted bit louder at the time.

SLFguy
28th Sep 2005, 12:27
Personally I'd make 'em jog behind the 'meals on wheels' van to catch their din-dins... :uhoh:

.........uphill :D

419
28th Sep 2005, 12:47
So Ms Hardy admits that she was upset that someone paid her debt, and she should have been allowed to stay in prison.
"Surely there's a human rights element? Surely the person who owes the money has the right to say whether they want this debt paid or not?

Does this also mean that she would have been willing to pay the £100s (or £1000s) it would have cost to keep her in prison while she made "her statement"

Nick Riviera
28th Sep 2005, 19:26
As we have already had some thread creep into the standard of council services, I thought I would share what happened today with you. My local council, in its wisdom, decided to supply everybody with wheelie bins. I had to ask for a larger than standard size, which was tiny, as with a young family we do generate a fair bit of waste (and yes, we do recycle). This morning I had to put out the bin, but also laid one extra bag next to it on the pavement as we seem to have had a particularly bad week. The binmen came along, took the bin and left the bag on the pavement. I went outside to query this and was told that it is council policy only to collect rubbish from the bins. I asked whether it was ok then to leave the bag in the street for the foxes to get at but got only blank stares. No amount of arguing on my part could persuade them to take the bag. Then, my neighbour came over and offered to put the bag in his bin as he had room. We duly did this and watched as the binmen, who had seen what we had done, picked up the bin and emptied it. What a bunch of ******* jobsworths. So glad that I am paying an exorbitant amount of council tax to employ fcukwits like that.

ORAC
29th Sep 2005, 06:00
The Times: Good Samaritan who freed tax protester asks for his cash back

A MYSTERY benefactor who paid for an elderly council tax protester to be freed from prison asked for his money back after she grumbled about him. The middle-aged man, who gave his name only as Mr Brown, drove to Eastwood Prison in Gloucestershire and paid £53.71 plus £10 court costs to have Sylvia Hardy released early from a seven-day sentence.

On Monday, Miss Hardy was jailed by Exeter magistrates for refusing to pay an increase in the council tax on her £130,000 flat. She was freed yesterday after serving just 36 hours. Immediately after her release, Miss Hardy, 73, complained that she had wanted to serve her full sentence and speculated that her benefactor might have had “malicious” motives.

A source at the prison said yesterday that staff had been delighted to see the back of the pensioner. “We never want to see her again,” he said. “She was belligerent and aggressive and did nothing but complain since the moment she got here. She complained about the food, she complained about the bed, she made a nuisance of herself from the word go. We had to explain to her that she’d been sent to prison, not a holiday camp.”

The prison officer said that Miss Hardy’s protest had diverted resources and meant at least one prisoner had to be sent elsewhere. After Miss Hardy’s release, the prison service paid about £200 for a taxi to take her home to Exeter. Once back home, she continued to grumble. Yesterday, the prison officer said, her benefactor called the prison and asked, only half jokingly, whether they would take her back. The source said: “He hadn’t been very impressed with what she’d said on the radio. He had paid her fine as a humanitarian gesture as he doesn’t believe anyone should spend time in prison for such a petty matter, but she was questioning his motives. He asked if it was too late to get a refund.”

Yesterday, Miss Hardy continued to complain about the prison food and the “rock hard” pillow she had been forced to use. She again questioned the motives of her rescuer. She said: “I do not know Mr Brown and I don’t know why he has taken this action. I don’t know if he is somebody who wants to wreck the system. It’s a shame some people get hold of the wrong end of the stick. It was my decision to go to jail and I wanted to serve the full sentence. But once the debt was paid it would have been illegal for me to be kept in prison. I cannot help that.”

Miss Hardy, a retired social worker, insisted that she would continue her protest and is prepared to go to prison again. She said: “I don’t regret anything, I was prepared to do it and I will do it again. I am not paying my full tax this year either. I have had my final demand. No doubt I will be getting a letter telling me that I have got to go to court again. I will go to prison again if necessary.”

But staff at Eastwood Prison begged her to reconsider. One officer said: “Please don’t come back here again. Ever.”

1DC
29th Sep 2005, 09:41
Following on with the thread creep..
In addition to our black bags (no wheelies here), we were given boxes to put recycling stuff in. I put bags and box out on collection day and when the box was being collected the collector was throwing half of the stuff on the grass verge. He said we had put the wrong kind of tins in and he didn't want them, took what he wanted and left. I called the council and they said we must have misread the advice sheet for recycling,(he was right). I asked what was going to happen to the tins and bottles that were littering the grass verge and was told it was my responsibility. I pointed out that the fine for litter in our village was £1000, and wondered if the council would prosecute themselves when I reported them or would it be another agency that did it. After a pregnant pause and a quick word with someone else the council said they would handle it and sure enough a chap turned up and cleaned up within the hour..
If the collector had just put the unwanted stuff back in the box and explained that we had made a mistake everything would have been fine, we would have sorted it...