The Bud­get’s few crumbs won’t help most fam­i­lies

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - Joe Duffy WRITE TO JOE AT: The Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day, Em­bassy House, Balls­bridge, Dublin 4

THE first ca­su­alty of Bud­get 2018 is Live­line, which has been knocked clean off the air on Tues­day be­cause of Paschal Dono­hoe’s speech. Yes, the Min­is­ter for Fi­nance has de­cided to bring for­ward his much­hyped first solo bud­get ad­dress to the prime lunchtime slot. It has never hap­pened be­fore, but now Live­line has been jet­ti­soned to make way for the dul­cet tones of the min­is­ter. I some­how doubt if it was de­lib­er­ate, but the min­is­ter has guar­an­teed him­self a much big­ger ra­dio au­di­ence that ever be­fore.

The al­ter­ation to the ra­dio sched­ule seems to be the only ma­jor change that we can ex­pect on Tues­day given the lead up to the Bud­get.

Does any worker re­ally be­lieve there will be any sig­nif­i­cant change to their pe­nal in­come tax rates?

It’s now the av­er­age worker who shoul­ders the mas­sive tax bur­den in the State – the statis­tics are truly shock­ing.

The 50% of fam­i­lies who now earn over €33,000 pay 97% of the in­come tax take. In other words half of the work­force are pay­ing nearly all of the in­come tax.

And it will come as no sur­prise in a world where al­most all po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­sists ev­ery new charge is lumped onto ‘gen­eral tax­a­tion’, that in­come tax as a por­tion of the over­all tax take has jumped dra­mat­i­cally, from 28% to 40%.

One third of the work­force is com­pletely ex­empt from in­come tax, whereas any­one em­ployed in a half-de­cent job finds them­selves with a weekly in­come tax bill of over 50% at the mar­gin.

How can po­lit­i­cal par­ties – both left and right – jus­tify a tax on the prof­its of multi­na­tional com­pa­nies of in re­al­ity less than 10% while the in­come of hard-pressed work­ers is taxed at least four times that rate? They ar­gue that the low cor­po­ra­tion tax rate is to in­cen­tivise com­pa­nies – how about giv­ing work­ers a boost on Tues­day?

One se­nior trade union­ist this week de­scribed work­ers de­mands for in­come tax re­duc­tions as a ‘con job’. But any par­ent who has to sit in grid­locked traf­fic ev­ery morn­ing as they bat­tle to get their chil­dren to child­care be­fore head­ing in for a long days work are con­ning no­body.

The Jam (‘just about man­ag­ing’) Gen­er­a­tion are now the eco­nomic back­bone of this na­tion and their le­git­i­mate de­mands for an eas­ing of the bur­den on them should not be so lightly dis­missed. And of course the Jam Gen­er­a­tion find that they have to pay for every­thing from hos­pi­tal bills to crip­pling mort­gages.

They also have to lis­ten to well funded State and trade union spon­sored ‘think tanks’ on the air­waves try­ing to tell them that they are not heav­ily taxed! Yet any in­ter­na­tional com­par­isons show clearly that the Ir­ish in­come tax sys­tem is the most pro­gres­sive in Europe – in truth any worker earn­ing twice the min­i­mum wage will pay many mul­ti­ples of that in in­come tax.

By the way, have any of these economists any ideas on how to cre­ate new jobs in­stead of re­peat­ing their mantra that work­ers should be taxed more?

While the Live­line phone show falls by the way­side on Tues­day the phoney war be­tween our two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties con­tin­ues as they de­cide which ta­ble the few crumbs for hard­work­ing fam­i­lies should ac­tu­ally fall from.

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