Resisting the Household Tax - what to expect

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Across the country, communities have begun to organise to resist the new household tax.  The government have introduced this tax, due to be levied from 1st January, at €100 per year in a bid to sneak in what will within a couple of years amount to a bill of up to €1,300 for every household, combining a property and water tax. 

 
They claim that the revenue generated will go to develop local services.  But this is a lie - every penny raised will go straight to paying off the gambling debts of international bankers and financiers. 
If this tax is successfully imposed it will open the way to the privatisation of our water service, just as has happened with our bin service.  Private companies are already lining up to attempt to generate profits from our water supply. 
 
Refuse to pay
 
The only way to prevent this is to stop the charge being implemented now.  If everybody refuses to pay, the government’s ability to impose this tax on us against our will is very limited. 
 
They will threaten us with fines, and maybe even with imprisonment.  But if we build a campaign that involves hundreds of thousands of people refusing to pay, they simply cannot take us all through the court process.  We proved this in the 1990s when, despite their best efforts to beat a massive campaign of people power, the then government was forced to abolish water charges.
 
In communities across Dublin and throughout the country ordinary people refused to pay and then organised to defend non-payers.  When the councils attempted to disconnect water supply, we rallied to make it impossible for them to do so.  In the few cases where they did disconnect, campaigners re-connected the water supply within hours. 
 
When they changed tactics and began to take people to court, neighbours and fellow non-payers turned up in their hundreds to support them.  The campaign challenged every single case in court and completely tied up the legal process.  It quickly became apparent that it would be impossible to take court cases against even a minority of non-payers and the government was forced to concede defeat.
 
Defend non-payers
 
The same challenge faces us now and by organising in the same way we can again be successful.  Supposed defenders of working people, the Labour Party are implementing this tax while Sinn Fein, although opposing the tax, are refusing to support non-payment. Our strategy must be that, firstly, nobody should pay.  Secondly, we should organise for the defence of non-payers so that when the government dares to take action against one of us, they will be taking us all on. 
 
This cannot be left to politicians, trade union leaders or community leaders. No matter how well intentioned any of them are, it is only the tactic of mass participation in the campaign that can win.  That means that everybody who makes the decision not to pay should then decide to convince as many as possible of their neighbours, friends, family and workmates to do the same.  The campaign needs to be spearheaded by ordinary people operating as leaders in their own communities. 
 
The campaign has already begun in some areas.  If there is a campaign in your area, get involved.  Go to the meetings, sign the non-payment petition, put an ‘I’m not paying’ poster in your window, get copies of the Campaign newsletter and distribute them in your area, talk to your neighbours and workmates and get them involved. By standing together we can defeat this tax.  A victory in this campaign will teach a hard lesson to the government but more valuable is the lesson we learn ourselves – organising to win.   
 
If the campaign has not yet been established in your area, then get in touch with it by emailing contact@householdtax.org or by ringing/texting Greg on 0861501151.  You will be put in touch with others in your area and helped to get the ball rolling.

This article is from Issue 124 of Ireland's anarchist paper Workers Solidarity November / December 2011

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