One of the greater challenges any government has during a fiscal crisis is connecting cutbacks to people’s pockets and tax contribution. Anti-cutbacks activists tend to define cutbacks in a vaccuum, as if they are being pursued for their own sadistic pleasure as opposed to being linked to a shortage in available revenue.
As part of that, I’ve always felt that the Government has failed to inform the public as to the link between the taxes they pay and what it’s spent on, instead letting the media obsess with tiny (relative to the budget) sections of the budget such as the government jet and Oireachtas expenses.
Would it really be that difficult for the Revenue Commissioners to provide every taxpayer with a Personal Tax and Spending Statement? A single page outlining how much they pay personally in tax (with an estimated average for VAT), and what they get from the state in direct payments (welfare, children’s allowance), subsidies (health), and indirect Govt services (Gardai, etc)?
Yes, you’ll have the usual “Well, I’m not a farmer. Why do I pay for the CAP/I’ve never been hacked to death by a serial killer and served with a passable Italian wine, why do I pay for the Gardai ?” whinging, but people will also discover that most people get far more back from the state than they pay in taxes. You could also show where Govt spending really goes, that the Govt jet and Oireachtas expenses cost the public pennies whilst social welfare and the public sector payroll and pensions is where most of their money goes (I’m stating this as a fact, not as an attack on them). I think people would also get a fright as to how much of their taxes are starting to go on debt interest, and also what proportion of Govt spending is funded through borrowing. Surely it would be a useful exercise?