Evaluating Britain's Poll Tax

The editorial "Britain's Next Leader," March 18, states that the "hated 'poll tax' " was paid "equally by rich and poor for local services."

The poll tax is by no means hated by all - large numbers of single occupants, far from rich, find it a great deal fairer than the property-tax system it replaced. In addition, it is not paid equally by rich and poor alike. There is a system of rebates for less well-off individuals, with down to only 20 percent being payable in some cases.

The principle that at least a small amount should be payable by all for services is a good one, encouraging local authorities to spend responsibly. But, it is this principle which is so hated in certain quarters that a propaganda campaign was mounted against the poll tax.

The most important issue is to prevent local authorities from spending foolishly and beyond the wishes of a large minority in each area. Under proposals for the future by both Labour and Liberals, this element of discipline is missing. J. Cawdron, Kent, England

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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