Death and taxes are the only sure things in life. But now, if you live in any rural part of Wales, you can add a third sure thing to the list: Paying more council tax and getting less.
This is the only conclusion any reasonable person can draw from the current consultation and review process underway when it comes to how our future property taxes will be assessed in the coming years.
As things stand now, homeowners of properties in Wales pay roughly the combined sum of £2.5 billion to keep our local authorities up and running. Around half of the 1.5 million Welsh households have some form of reduction on the full money due. And given the high number of second homes in Wales that are unoccupied or under-utilised for half of the year — for that reason their owners should be rightly penalised with higher taxes for hollowing out our communities in the undesirable off-season — councils have no option but to cut back services to the bare bones.
Something has to change.
As far as the Welsh Government is concerned, their proposed changes to the assessment process is supposed to bring fairness.
As far as the people of mid and west Wales ought to be concerned, the proposed system effectively means that those of us who live in rural areas — and much of the region is rural in nature — will end up paying higher rates of tax.
An essential element of any taxation process is equality. Quite frankly, this proposed review removes equality from the new tax-assessment formula.
How can it be that a homeowner in Cardiff or Swansea will pay a reduced rate of tax, while property owners in Gwynedd, Ceredigion, Powys or Pembrokeshire will have to dig deeper? Anyone who lives in this region knows that those who live along the M4 and A55 corridors receive far better levels of public services that the rest of forgotten Wales.
Must we now pay more too for the privilege of being overlooked by the people in power in Cardiff Bay?