Spend the lot and make no provision for old age

Readers' Letters | Published:

AS A pensioner I am taxed because I was foolish enough to purchase an additional pension during my 45-year working life. Not the lavish illustrated pay-out the pension company wooed me with at the outset – did anyone ever receive that? – but one that provided an extra, small income when I retired some years ago.

Despite only ever earning a secretary’s wage, I single-handedly managed to purchase my own property at a time when a borrower’s interest rates were 15% from a bank and 8% from the States of Guernsey, which loaned me money to facilitate the provision of a tiny kitchen and bathroom, thus adding a viable, affordable extra unit to the local market. All loans were repaid, with all lenders making a tidy little sum themselves too. At times, mortgages, loans and maintenance accounted for more than three quarters of my income. To manage I did without what are now seen as life’s necessities – hair dye and extensions, tattoos, gel nails, mobile phones, etc, and without the luxuries of at least two holidays a year, of having a child out of wedlock (the temptation was there) and a brand new car.

Today I received a letter from Guernsey’s Revenue Service (the old Social Security) who told me that despite having overcharged me £2.60 in my January 2019 insurance contribution, they were not going to bother to refund it to me, presumably because it would cost in excess of that administratively to do so. Nor were they going to be bothered to adjust my February contribution to reflect such a refund. Just forget it – it’s all grist to the mill.

It seems to be my fault that despite submitting my 2018 income tax return within set parameters, administrative system delays (on their part) prevented correct charges being in place for an end of January deduction. Similarly, Income Tax demanded that I make them an extra payment by the end of December 2018, only to refund tax to me in January this year to reflect an overcharge (at least I was repaid). Administrative costs are building nicely for all this while, alas, my annual income diminishes all the time.

I have just paid an £85 recycling charge, meaning that with the cost of labels for black sacks, an extra £2 per week has been added to my annual expenditure. Exactly the same service prevails, although I now have the work of separating and storing my rubbish. Still, let’s save the planet. Authorities charge me income tax and social insurance based on my income, but I pay universal charges for standard health care, all utilities, power and heating, petrol, house and car insurance and maintenance, TRP, parish rates, food, clothes, etc and these charges rise each year. It’s fine to give us a little extra in our retirement pensions, but then you mess with the age-related tax allowance.

If I am unfortunate enough to have to go into a care home, I fully expect to have to rent out my house or sell it in order to make a ‘fair’ contribution to my upkeep and the upkeep of those who have made no provision. You have even taken away my option of assisted dying.

Well, this is what the States of Guernsey have on offer: so residents of Guernsey, learn from my mistakes – spend everything as it comes in and make no provision for old age. Better yet, don’t work at all: you will be provided with subsidised housing (how do States house tenants run up rent arrears of several thousand pounds anyway?). Have as many children as you fancy and know that in your old age your care home will be paid for because you won’t have anything to contribute towards it. You will be safe until someone comes up with the idea of only paying out in proportion to what you have contributed.

But, States of Guernsey, please give me justice and have the decency to refund my £2.60.


Editor’s footnote: A spokesman for the Revenue Service replies:

If following a reassessment of an individual’s liability for social insurance contributions they owe or are due a repayment of less than £7.50, then this is not automatically billed or repaid. However, customers are asked to contact the Revenue Service if they would like the repayment issued. Your reader may therefore wish to contact the team on the number given in the letter they received in order for their refund to be processed.

Di Lihou

By Di Lihou
Editorial assistant

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