Tax plan to entice emigrants home hits Budget snag
Published 21/09/2015 | 02:30
Plans to include incentives in the Budget aimed at luring emigrants back to Ireland have become a sticking point for the Coalition.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has repeatedly signalled his intention to introduce measures to encourage many of the more than 200,000 young people who left the country at the height of the recession to return.
Mr Kenny said during the summer that emigrants are not coming home because they fear they will get "screwed" for tax.
As a result, it was widely expected that Finance Minister Michael Noonan would use Budget 2016 to make a direct plea to those people.
The Government has examined the possibility of rolling out a tax incentive for those considering returning home, the Irish Independent understands. However, officials at the Department of Finance are concerned that any specific tax measures aimed at ex-pats could antagonise taxpayers who stayed at home and worked through years of austerity.
A Government source said: "It doesn't look like we can introduce a tax incentive as it wouldn't be fair on people working here.
"We still want to do something for emigrants but it hasn't been decided what is possible at this stage."
Budget talks will intensify this week as the Dáil returns from the summer recess.
It now seems likely that Mr Noonan will use his speech on October 13 to stress to emigrants that taxes such as the USC are falling and will continue to do so as the economy recovers.
Latest figures show that net migration (immigration minus emigration) was still in negative territory in the year to April 2015. However, the gap is getting smaller.
Over that period, 81,000 people emigrated (of which 35,000 were Irish nationals) and 69,000 immigrated (12,000 were Irish).
The Taoiseach has said he wants 2016 to be "our own year of family reunification, where our children come home at last from Melbourne or London or New York".
Earlier this year, the HSE began a campaign aimed at encouraging Irish nurses and midwives to return home.
They hope to recruit 500 workers by offering a relocation package of up to €1,500, paying first-time nursing registration fees and funding postgraduate education.