Taxman


If you drive a car I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat,
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.

And you’re working for no one but me.

I was reminded of the above Beatles song while listening the other day to Joe Duffy on RTE’s ever popular Liveline in which a cash strapped small business owner told the nation how a 6,000 euro tax arrears bill, through penalties and interest, had quickly notched up to 16,000 in a very short space of time. The Revenue Commissioners it seems, cared little about his financial problems, were pursuing him for the full amount,  and had sent the Sheriff  to collect their money on a number of occasions.

One has to really question the Revenue Commissioners approach to this problem, especially in view of the current financial difficulties caused by the recession and credit crunch. Whilst their primary purpose is to collect taxes due to the state, they also have a responsibility to ensure that in doing so they do not damage the economy further.

Rather than penalising and taking such a heavy handed approach with taxpayers in arrears, why does the Revenue Commissioner not take a NAMA type approach to the problem? They could for instance adopt a policy of gathering the arrears over an agreed and sustainable payment period, as long as current taxes are being paid also. After all, the much put upon taxpayer, trying to survive a recession caused by banks, developers, and Government incompetence, sees their taxes going not to health, education, and other services, but to bolstering the finances of politicians expense accounts, bailing out bankers and developers, and rewarding incompetence and greed with large pensions and golden handshakes. If the Revenue Commissioner adopted a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach to these troubled companies, they could help alleviate the financial difficulties of many small business’s, maintain current tax revenues, and hopefully keep the jobs (and the tax revenues they generate) in these business’s long enough to be able to survive the recession which is crippling them through no fault of their own.

If the Revenue Commissioner does not already see that this makes good sense for our economy, and for our society, then should he/she be collecting our taxes at all?  Or should someone with a more sensible approach take over the role? Someone who realises that being a taxman or taxwoman is not just about collecting revenue, it’s also about ensuring our economy remains healthy and is able to maintain the revenues required to support services.

I can’t see where top heavy penalties, liquidations, business closures, and forcing people on to the dole queues will help that.

‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.


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About Ronan Gallagher

Writer and Film-maker living and working in Leitrim in the North West of Ireland. View all posts by Ronan Gallagher

5 responses to “Taxman

  • denis

    ronan,
    a good idea. as ever very insightful.

  • Mary C. Dolan

    Well said again, Ronan. Unfortunately, I have become cynical and soured on the concept that bureaucrats can think outside the box simply because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’. We need NEW THINKING and the best new thinking comes from our entrepreneurial-minded business people who have to make their own companies swim in tough times so why not the country if enough got together for a think-tank shadow government advisory group making public their recommendations? Wishful thinking, I’m afraid.

  • iarlaith

    I am overwhelmed by the sheer truth of your voicerifacations and if truth be told feel cowardly in my voiceless muteness. If you continue to make me feel ill with all this truth I shall have to nominate you for the next Ceann Catherlach position. Just keep it up……you are a voice of the peoplle.

  • Ronan Gallagher

    Many thanks Iarlaith. Hope the sick bag is nearby.

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