Council tax – the tax on being alive

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Income tax is only chargeable on money you earn, so this element of tax is not a problem for anyone wanting to live without money. For those of you who don’t pay it for whatever reason, even those who don’t claim any social welfare benefits or avail of any public services, there will be accusations of leaching and living off other’s taxes, and that comes with the territory. Whilst I fully sympathise with many taxpayers’ sentiments to this effect (I am one myself, as I pay tax on my book sales), I also believe that a human being must have, at least, the basic right to not believe in the story of money, just as much as an adult taxpayer will retain the right to not believe in the story of Santa Claus if they so wish. If other people want to use money, that’s their choice. But I don’t subscribe to the view that because some do, everyone therefore has to. Taxes, because they can only be paid in legal tender which most people can only obtain by trading their time in exchange for it, force people out of subsistence living and into the wage and market economy. Earthworms, trees or bees don’t pay taxes, or believe in the story of money, yet it doesn’t mean that they don’t play an absolutely essential role in life on Earth.

However, if your heart beats and your feet tend to reside on a piece of privately owned Earth defined as the United Kingdom, you are liable to pay council tax (if you live outside of the UK this may or may not be an obstacle). Whether you have to actually pay council tax or not is an entirely different story. As it stands at the time of writing, if you are a low earner or unemployed you can claim council tax benefit to offset this, but again, it’s tricky: in order to claim it, you have to prove that you’re unemployed by showing a claim for jobseekers allowance or other similar forms of social welfare payment, which in turn doesn’t make you very moneyless. One solution is that you could give your benefits to a homeless person who, because of various bureaucratic and personal matters, can’t claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, but by this point it is becoming a silly game with the system, which is hardly the intended spirit behind living in the localised gift economy along with the birds and the bees.

Another potential solution to consider is the Freeman on the Land(77) concept, which is a movement of people who declare themselves outside of Statute Law, using the notion of ‘Lawful Rebellion’ in the process. They claim that Statute Law (or Acts, as they refer to them) is contractual and therefore it only applies to their legal person as represented by their birth certificate, and not the real human being behind it to which only Common Law applies, unless they consent to otherwise. This is a huge topic in itself and one outside the scope of this book, other than my recommendation to investigate it for yourself and to then make your own conclusions in relation to council tax. Some Freemen claim that you do not need to pay it if you have not consented to their contract. I have seen some evidence of a letter from a council that would certainly back this claim up, from someone who has claimed to have won a case in relation to not paying council tax, but I cannot verify how genuine this letter was or what went on behind the scenes. If you do choose this route, you do really need to understand what you’re doing and be prepared to accept all that comes with it, both legally and in terms of what it means for your life.

If you are choosing to live without the concept of debt or credit (as opposed to just being skint because the economic system you’ve been forced into is failing you), I feel you should strongly consider whether or not it is consistent to then avail of the benefits that the monetary economy provides, such as free industrialised healthcare, tax-funded libraries, the fire service and the like. Otherwise there is strong merit in the criticisms.

If you thought the complexities stopped there, you were wrong. Many people who argue against the monetary economy, for whatever reason, believe that we could still have our dialysis machines, fire engines and books in a non-monetary economic model (I disagree). They claim that they’ve been forced into this monetary model, and whilst not wanting to perpetuate it feel that they should still be entitled to use it until humanity wakes up to a more compassionate, connected economic system. This is the position many of those in movements like Zeitgeist take, and whilst I sympathise with such a stance, I have yet to see any evidence of how it could ever possibly work at such a macro-scale in reality.

Whether or not people should pay council tax is a massive philosophical question, and opinions are completely divided. It is so complex that I am even divided on the subject myself, and I’m an avid proponent of moneylessness. Philosophically speaking, I believe council tax to be outrageous, it is effectively a tax on breathing when applied in a country that no longer has any common land that one can dwell on, and it is just another tool to force people out of a subsistence, non-monetary economy and into a wage, monetary economy. For that reason alone it is worth resistance and I fully support anyone who does.

However, speaking with my realist hat on, council tax does go towards things most non-monetary economists I know like: the fire service, libraries, police protection and so on. To refuse to pay it, when you are physically able to and skilled enough to, does bring with it some responsibilities in my opinion. The responsibility of looking after your own needs in these respects, possibly with other people in your neighbourhood who don’t want to believe in the story of money any longer either. Again, some will argue that it is impossible not to use the police, as their very existence affords you protection, unless you put up a sign on your house saying “We will not phone the police if you break in”. This, in turn, could be counter-argued by the fact that, within this legal system, if someone tries to apprehend a murderer, burglar or banker themselves, they are setting themselves up to be sued.

These issues are often passionately debated on both sides, and I can see both arguments. By creating the story of money a long time ago, and by then brainwashing ourselves into believing that money is some sort of universal truism, we’ve got ourselves in a right pickle, and I can’t hand-onheart advise you what to do in this respect. I feel that as long as you are coming from a place of love, from the holistic self and not the egocentric self, and that you are actively trying to change the social myths that create such illusory dilemmas to begin with, then you will not go too far wrong, whatever route you take.

A fair compromise, one which respects the needs of everyone involved, may be that if you want to live without the story of money, yet still benefit from some of the services that your local council provides (whether you like it or not), that you offer some of your time and knowledge to the local community in any way that is helpful to them. I would hope that anyone living moneylessly would do this anyway, and not need it to be part of a formal arrangement, as a life without caring for those around you isn’t the life without money that I advocate and I’d personally want nothing to do with it.