172. Parish councils obtain their revenue from a
precept on council tax bills. They use their money to invest in
small community projects, which often involve the greatest accountability,
due the small nature and size of their remit and electorate. When
considering the possible changes to the current council tax the
Somerset Association of Local Councils was most concerned about
the impact of a local income tax. Their representative, Peter
Lacey, argued that
"For Local Income Tax to be relevant to Parish
Councils without any other form of tax there would be a need for
a basic rate of tax taken to say five places of decimals. Computerised
payroll working could cope, but simplicity needs to be the key
and the manual operation of the PAYE codes is already under attack
as too complex for small businesses."
He further argued that,
"Without a locally sensitive tax the direct
relationship of the precept to the Parish would be lost and therefore
the local link of revenue to borrowing capacity would also disappear.
Some form of local tax is essential from the perspective of our
members so that local decisions have local direct relevance. A
"local" local tax is also essential for the security
of the revenue for any repayments arising on borrowings."
173. The Somerset Association of Local Councils argued
that local taxes should represent the wishes of the local community,
and that their accountability was premised on that. Peter Lacey
indicated that the Parish Council decision-making process was
one that involved a large number of local residents.
The laudable desire of Parish councils for expenditure directly
attributable to their activities to be known to local electors,
and to be raised from local taxation, is a further strong argument
for a local tax base and local taxes.