Saturday

27th Aug 2016

Irish citizens boycott austerity tax

Almost half of Irish people have refused to pay a household tax imposed as part of promised savings measures, while government pressure to secure the levy risks further angering an austerity-weary public.

By a Saturday (31 March) midnight deadline, around 805,000 of the country's 1.6 million registered households had paid the tax, which has been subject to a high-profile boycott campaign.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Pro-Lisbon-Treaty ad from 2009: Ireland has been the poster-boy of EU anti-crisis efforts up to now (Photo: Conor McCabe/Jason Clarke)

The Irish government agreed to introduce it in 2012 as part of a deal with the EU and the International Monetary Fund - from which it secured an €85 billion loan in 2010.

But it has been unpopular from the very beginning for its across-the-board nature: the same levy is applied both to rich and poor households.

The boycott has been led by nine members of parliament. They compare the campaign to the massive protests in Ireland in the late 19 century against high rents and evictions.

"The Household Tax is linked in the minds of those opposing with the billions being paid from taxpayers' funds to bail out bankers and speculators for bad private gambling debts and with the swingeing austerity being imposed," said a recent statement by the group-of-nine.

Those who do not pay will be fined and risk court action.

For its part, the government has appealed to people's civic and patriotic duty. It has also pledged to spend the €160m raised by the tax on local services.

"I thank them and acknowledge their genuine patriotism to this country at a difficult time," said environment minister Phil Hogan in reference to those who have already paid up.

The authorities are in a difficult position, however. Irish citizens have already been subject to tough austerity measures in the form of €24 billion of tax rises and spending cuts.

Until now the country has been held up as a shining example of how to beat the crisis - imposing the cuts without seeing widespread social unrest.

The test comes as figures released by the country's national statistics office last week show the country is back in recession, with GDP falling by 0.2 percent for the last quarter of 2011, after falling by 1.1% in the previous quarter.

The current debate may also become embroiled in the forthcoming referendum on the fiscal discipline treaty. Ireland is holding a vote on the document on 31 May. Failure to approve the treaty will mean that Ireland will not be allowed to receive funds from the eurozone's forthcoming permanent bail-out fund, the European Stability Mechanism.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary plans to reinforce border fence against migrants
  2. France's highest court suspends burkini ban
  3. Greeks paid €1bn more in taxes in June
  4. Greek minister denounces EU letter on former statistics chief
  5. Turks seeking asylum in Greece may cause diplomatic row
  6. Merkel becomes digital resident of Estonia
  7. Report: VW will compensate US dealers with €1bln
  8. EU mulls making Google pay news media for content

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBrussels - home of beer, fries, chocolate and Google’s Public Policy Team - follow @GoogleBrussels
  2. HuaweiSeeds for the Future Programme to Bring Students from 50 countries to China for Much-Needed ICT Training
  3. EFASpain is not a democratic state. EFA expresses its solidarity to Arnaldo Otegi and EH Bildu
  4. UNICEFBoko Haram Violence in Lake Chad Region Leaves Children Displaced and Trapped
  5. HuaweiMaking Cities Smarter and Safer
  6. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  7. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  8. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  9. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  10. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  11. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  12. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey