December 2007: The new reliables

This week, with budget only a couple of weeks away, I’m putting forward a few taxing proposals of my own for Bertie and Brian to mull over before the big day. The old, reliable arguments are being made to raise the tax on the “Old Reliables” but I don’t think this should be done. Of course, the other reliable in days of yore was petrol, but you can be damn sure that there will be no hike there due to the rising price of oil.

In a way the “old reliables” have become unreliable as a source of income for the taxman and so need to be replaced with new reliables. Perhaps it is time to start taxing some other more popular items, in order to make the budget more interesting for us, while, at the same time, getting more money into the state’s coffers.

The tax take on cigarettes must be diminishing at this stage, considering how difficult it is nowadays to have a puff legally, and in peace, in a public place. And with the news that nearly fifty rural pubs have closed in this county in the past year, together with the introduction of strict drink-driving laws, plus the aforementioned smoking ban, there would seem little point in putting up the price of the pint.

With supermarkets now able to advertise drink below cost as “loss leaders”, the tax take on drink becomes less attractive. So, instead of taxing the drink itself, the government should put a tax on the “loss leaders” that multinationals use to get our custom. They could, for example, charge the supermarket tycoons twenty per cent tax on every five per cent “discount” they pretend to put on a particular item. That would swipe the smug smiles that appear on their faces when they think of our gullibility.

This would discourage them from using despicable and devious tactics in the aisles of our local shop. In this way, we wouldn’t have to buy three bottles of bleach instead of the one we need, because we are forced to buy “three for the price of two”.  Dare you try and separate the bottles by cutting the tough plastic that is shrink-wrapped around them (using the pair of scissors that you cleverly brought along for the job); you will be faced with the stern warning on the side;-“not for individual sale”.

At least if we taxed the supermarkets for the way they package such items, we would get a sense of revenge, while trying to persuade the kids to eat pasta for the fifteenth  day in a row, in order to use it before its sell-by date.

Another abomination that should be taxed to the hilt is the mobile phone. There could be a special tax on the most annoying ring tones. The government could bring out a White Paper on which ring tones they considered deserving of this special tax. And on-the-spot fines for use of a mobile phone in a church, graveyard, cinema, theatre, shop, hairdressers, and pub…in fact, anywhere in public where you are not allowed smoke … would raise a heck of lot of money for the government.

While we’re at it, we could put a tax on iPods and the like. This would discourage people from filling the air on buses with the faint, tinny beat that drives everybody bonkers. That, and the way that you find yourself talking to yourself because the person you are addressing is oblivious to you, eyes closed, while listening to the Artic Monkeys or Snow Patrol.

I’m telling you, the Santa lists would be a lot shorter, and cheaper, is those infernal music machines and maddening mobile phone tones were made a new source of tax by Cowen next month.

Of course, with the Green Party in government, acting as the tail of the dog, as it were, Bertie and Brian would have to come up with something to keep them happy in their compost heap. Therefore, I am proposing that there should a new tax on all the colours of the rainbow … except green, of course.

If you want to paint your house any colour other than green then you will pay dearly for it after this budget. The colour pink should especially be discouraged by putting a higher rate of tax on its use than other colours … part from blue which, for gender equality reasons, should be taxed at the same rate as pink.

It would mean that, in a few years’ time, Ireland would be a much greener place to live in. In fact, it would be the greenest place on the planet and ensure that the Green Party would be remembered forever by the plain people of Ireland, and envied by the rest of the world. Green houses, green telegraph poles, green lines on the road, green incinerators (in colour at least)….the possibilities are endless.

Another great source of income for this government, if they would only take on board my ideas, would be to tax every American soldier that passes through Shannon on his way to Iraq. If he survives Bush’s war, we could feel his pockets on the way home as well. Or, if Bertie wished, he could send a tax estimate to Bush at the end of the year and collect the cheque when he goes over on Paddy’s day.



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