Time to ban the tax band

6 Mar 09
Council tax is a most regressive form of taxation and, despite Alan Whitehead’s reference to the Lyons’ report, it is certainly far from being a yardstick of ability to pay

Council tax is a most regressive form of taxation and, despite Alan Whitehead’s reference to the Lyons’ report, it is certainly far from being a yardstick of ability to pay (’Band aid for councils’, February 20—26).

It is, as treasurers over the years have pointed out, easy to collect but it takes no account of the number of people living in a particular house and their use of local services.

For example, take two identical houses in Band F rated at £2,050 in my own local authority — one house occupied by a single person and the other by five wage-earning adults. The single occupant pays £1,537 (after the 25% discount) but the impact on the individuals in the other house is only £410.

The imbalance of the situation is further exacerbated as a large number of the single occupants are people on low incomes, such as senior citizens and single-parent families.

As Whitehead so aptly notes, it would be political suicide for any party to change the status quo, but a more pragmatic approach to the problem might be acceptable to the general public. This could, in the long run, save councils expenditure on revaluations and administration.

I suggest the government does away with banding completely (a house is a unit for the purpose of rating) and allows a 50% discount to single occupants. Although this would not deal completely with the issue, it could go a long way.

Keith Williams, Market Harborough, Leicestershire

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