When the Irish budget came out last month, I was annoyed to find out that we had to pay a household charge of €100. Why am I being charged another €100 just because I was able to buy a house? I'm pretty sure I pay a huge amount in a 'Universal Social Charge'. The word 'universal' is in there. How universal can it be if it doesn't cover everything universally?
Besides the obvious annoyance that you would feel even being told that his tax now exists, the Irish government and Revenue have made it difficult to find out anything about it.
Do you know how were we told there was going to be this €100 charge? The news, of course.
Just the news. That's it. Don't believe me? Ask my mom. She knows everything. But, six weeks of hanging out in my house every day and she still doesn't know this.
No letter in the post, no heavy campaigning. One, kind-of announcement about it on the news and then a lot of news coverage about the people who don't want to pay the charge.
Hey Michael Noonan, you want an estimated 1.8 million homeowners to pay your ridiculous €100 charge but you're not willing to invest in a TV advert and run it during peaks times on all Irish television stations to give people information? You need to spend money to make money, my friend, and if you'd like to make the estimated €160 million (how this figure was worked out, I don't know, but fine, I'll go with it), I would suggest ACTUALLY LETTING PEOPLE KNOW about it.
I'll admit it, I love TV. I watch it every single night for hours. It's what I do when I could be investing time in my family and marriage. When I suggest running a TV ad to tell me about this charge, I'm not saying I might catch it. No, no. I'm saying there is no chance that I will miss it. No chance. I'm going to take a wild guess and estimate that 99% of all other households in Ireland are exactly like this. But why bother, amirite?
So, armed with the little information I gathered from my boss about the household charge, I went to Bub.
Me: We need to remember to pay our household charge before the end of March.
Bub: What are you talking about? He didn't know what I was talking about. He was me only 5 hours before.
Me: The household charge... you know. That charge. On the house. That we have to pay. I was a fountain of rich information on the subject.
Bub: I know nothing about this. Who told you this?
Me: My boss told me. It's €100. We have to pay before the end of March or they'll fine us.
Bub: I have never heard anything about this. You're telling me they want €100 from us but they couldn't pop a letter in the post about it? How do we pay it? Where do we pay it? He had somehow become really annoyed. And a little indignant. It was hot.
Me: Um... online, I think?
Bub: At what address?
Me: ... How most of my conversations end.
We have waited for information to come from, well, anyone at all. If Mister Man came to me with information about this charge, we would have taken it on board. He would have been our most reliable source to date.
We did the obvious: we googled. I wanted a website from Revenue itself saying:
PRESS THIS BUTTON AND GIVE US YOUR EUROS. KTHXBAI.
But, for the first few pages all that turned up was people talking about not paying the household charge.
Then we went to www.revenue.ie. You know, the place where you pay all of your taxes. Guess what you don't pay there? Your household charge.
So, we did what any good detectives who don't want to pay anyone, much less this government, €100 - We gave up.
And here we sit, nearly two months away from the registration date and no closer to actually paying the charge. Until the government actually takes some initiative to collect it (costing them more to receive the money than the whole project is worth), then I think we'll sit on out 100 quid and go buy some diamonds or a horse or something.