Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

Imagine tax was voluntary.

Posted by Jason O on Oct 26, 2012 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious. |

Here’s a mad idea. Absolutely loopy. Crazy. See, there is an air of  The Emperor’s New Clothes about a lot of what is debated in this country. Many demand that the government fund additional spending on various worthy causes, yet there is little debate about who should fund these expenditures, save for a vague wave of the hand at the rich. On top of that, we have the odd declaration that if only the ordinary people were listened to, everything would be okay.

Imagine we took those arguments to their logical conclusion. Imagine we announced that from Jan 1st, 2014, VAT and income tax would be abolished, and instead, people would have to make a voluntary single annual payment, US style, with the amount decided by themselves, as to what they feel they are willing to contribute to society. They’d be free to donate nothing. All we’d require is that people announce in advance what they were donating (or not) so that we could draft the national budget accordingly, allowing the government to know how much money it had to play with. To assist people, the government would advise a recommended donation level required to keep services where they are.

What would be the effect? Many people would, I suspect, donate the recommended level, although not before giving themselves maybe a 20% tax cut. Some would donate even more so, feeling that they have done well, and so want to contribute to the less well off. But what would most Irish people do?

Curiously, a lot would depend as to whether the donations would be public or not. Imagine the sweating brows amongst senior trades union officials, NGOcrats and Irish Times columnists as that was debated.

Many people would say that although they could afford it, they aren’t going to be a mug and donate if others aren’t. Many more would declare that they cannot afford the recommended donation, and give less, as would be their right, and so the government would have to cut government pay and spending accordingly.

The government would accept that it would have to make do with what the Irish people have given it.

Then the trouble would start.

The unions and the farmers would take the lead, but they wouldn’t be alone. “These cutbacks are a disgrace!” They’d declare.

“Then pay more tax.” The Government will tell them.

“Don’t be smart!” They’d reply.

“I suppose we could bring back compulsory taxes,” the government would say.

“Now, hold on a minute!” comes the reply from the demonstrators.

The outcome?

They’d take to the streets, under a banner which will sum up the most honest  political belief ever stated in Ireland:

“Someone else should pay! Someone else should pay!”


Jul 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

“Someone else should pay! Someone else should pay!”

You’ve got the irish attitude bang on with that statement. Talk about a country with an over inflated sense of entitlement…

Oct 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Actually, they are voluntary, especially in nations that tax themselves progressively. All you have to do to “donate” nothing is to earn (in the case of the United States) less than $35K/year.

Or, as you point out, to be on the take, like a skilled, hostage-taking constrituency like farmers or teachers.

Snide comment aside, I suspect that your 20% figure is correct if *that was it*. In fact about 40-60% of a first-world person’s earnings go into that super-efficient service monopoly that we call government.

Oct 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

It might be a good time for us to remind ourselves of Herman Cain:




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