Tuesday 26 September 2017

Missed opportunities depressingly familiar for entrepreneurs

Stock image
Stock image

Brian Caulfield

Expectations were low for entrepreneurs going into this Budget. There's a recognition that the government is trying to perform a loaves and fishes act but, sadly, without the ability to work miracles.

There's also a view that a notionally "pro-business" government with a huge majority seemed incapable of introducing any visionary measures over five budgets. What chance then for bold measures from a minority administration in the thrall of populist forces within and without?

The increase in the earned income tax credit had been well flagged. The government had essentially committed to bringing it into line with the PAYE tax credit, currently €1,650, over three budgets.

So, it's disappointing that it was only increased by €400, albeit this is still some progress towards tax equalisation for entrepreneurs and the self-employed.

It will make the hurdle to becoming an entrepreneur a little lower. That's a good thing but it's difficult to understand the limited progress in the context of fishermen getting a €1,270 income tax credit. No doubt that was on the shopping list of some independent TD.

Scandalously, there has been no progress on eliminating the blatantly discriminatory 3pc USC supplement on self-employed/entrepreneurial incomes above €100,000.

Frankly, it surprises me that no-one has challenged this legally. The Department of Finance's reasoning for maintaining the 11pc USC rate can be summarised as the system was unfair to the self-employed before USC and we wanted to make sure to maintain an equal level of unfairness under USC.

The further CGT reduction of the first €1m of gains will have a minimal impact. Just as I said last year, on any substantial gain, an entrepreneur will still pay three times more tax here than in the UK.

It's all depressingly familiar. A litany of missed opportunities and kicks to touch. Nothing about reforming the EIIS investment scheme to improve access to early stage angel capital for entrepreneurs. No progress on social welfare benefits for entrepreneurs and, most disappointing of all, another vague promise to address the penal taxation of employee share options in the next budget.

I'm not sure this Government will last that long.

Brian Caulfield is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is a partner at Draper Espirit

Irish Independent

Also in Business