Community Charge – AKA the Poll Tax

"Not Militant, Not Socialist Worker, but still not paying the poll tax"

"Not Militant, Not Socialist Worker, but still not paying the poll tax"

31 March 1990 A Trafalgar Square riot after a 200,000-strong protest against the Community Charge – AKA the poll tax – prompted the downfall of prime minister Margaret Thatcher in November that year.

  • Millions of people across the UK had refused to pay the tax causing the local councils that collected it cash-flow problems.
  • More than one million people went missing from the electoral roll to avoid paying
  • By June 1990 one in five of the UK population had paid no Community Charge.
  • The tax was replaced in 1993, by which time 88% of people were refusing or delaying payment.

The system was brought in to replace household rates, based on the house’s size. Instead, each person in a home had to pay a charge. It meant a lord in a manor house paid the same as a school-leaver sharing a home with parents and siblings.

The Community Charge was first launched in Scotland, where the protest started. Tommy Sheriden, then part of the Militant socialist group and later a Scottish MSP, was the leading figure. Anti-poll tax groups sprang up around the country to defend non-payers threatened with bailiffs.

Although councils that took action against people to recover unpaid tax can continue to do so, there was six-year limit on starting legal cases. By 1 April 1999, six years after the final year of the Community Charge, more than 400,000 people had refused to pay more than £5m in tax that would never be paid.

Revolts : Cornish rebellion | Peasants’ revolt | Jack Cade | Boston tea party

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *