What should replace the domestic rates in the Isle of Man?

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The rating system should be reformed, Port Erin Commissioners agreed at their public meeting and they suggested several alternatives.

Deputy clerk of Tynwald Jonathan King has written to ask for feedback from all local authorities.

Businessman David Buttery presented a petition to Tynwald in 2009 and said that the rating system is ‘anachronistic, unfair and prejudicial’.

As a Douglas resident he says he subsidises householders living outside the town who use the facilities there.

A select committee will investigate the issue and report back to Tynwald in October.

Mr King asked: Does the authority think the rating system is ‘fair’ and what would they replace it with?

Godfrey Egee agreed the issue needed investigating, but ‘not because Douglas says we need more to pay to visit there’.

There could be a system based on a charge per person, suggested Martin Norbury.

Phil Crellin said: ‘It’s not an argument, you visit Douglas, you pay for it ... shops [in Douglas] pay rates [to the council]. It’s totally equitable, you should not pay to go somewhere else.’

He said: ‘I stand against an all island rate it’s totally unfair ... I want to move away from a property-based tax to an individual or even a poll tax. I like to think it’s equitable. For an old lady living on her own paying the same rate as me next door (with two occupants) is not fair.’

His main ‘bugbear’ is when rate reductions are rewarded to householders for disruption caused by building work. ‘The person causing the nuisance should pay the difference.’

Nick Watterson disagreed with giving a discount for payment of rates by June 30. He added a personal taxation system might ‘penalise vulnerable people rather than make it equitable’.

A poll tax ‘could hit the vulnerable,’ agreed chairman Lorna MacKellar. ‘It takes no account of the house you are living in.’ She suggested a system based on the value of the land. Mr Crellin said that ’does not address the problem of older members of the community living on their own.’ A ‘nuanced’ community charge based on services used is preferrable to one based on property, said Mr Watterson.

Mrs Guy said: ‘You could get a family of four on the bread line living next door to an old lady who is minted.’

There would be measures to reduce the amount she pays said Mr Crellin. He proposed they respond to Mr King that the rating system is unfair and there are ‘a number of options’.

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