A Bedroom Tax is not a Tax

A tax on bedrooms sounds a very undesirable concept. There is no reason why bedrooms should be directly taxed. There is an element of a tax on bedrooms in property taxes, such as Council Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax, where usually the more bedrooms a house has the more tax an occupant or buyer pays. This is not what is meant by politicians when they use the phrase “bedroom tax”.

They do not mean a tax at all. they mean the withdrawal of a subsidy (or gift from taxpayers) to people who do not pay tax or who do not pay much tax, which subsidy relates to the property they occupy. The device called (or miscalled) a bedroom tax is not a tax at all; it is simply the government using less taxpayer’s money to subsidise people who rent properties which have more bedrooms that the renters needs.

The “phrase” bedroom tax” may sound an attractive one to illustrate what some regard the unkindness of the government in withdrawing part of what had until now been a regular gift. However it makes a mockery of the word “tax” which is something paid by people, not something which is paid to people.

Withdrawing a subsidy to people in respect of bedrooms officials deem surplus to the people’s requirements may or may not be a good idea. It will cause hardship in some cases, I have no doubt, but it will be right fair and proper in other cases. Certainly subsidies paid to people to enable them to live in homes are in need f some reform, as the subsidies seem in some cases to act as a disincentive to work and can be unfair on those who work. Calling the withdrawal of part of a subsidy “the bedroom tax” does nothing to help find a sensible solution to the issue of how much taxpayers should subsidise those who cannot afford to live in decent accommodation when many of those taxpayers themselves cannot afford to live in the accommodation they desire.


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