Tuesday 25 October 2016

Just who does our Taoiseach think he's fooling with no-tax claim?

Published 30/06/2015 | 02:30

How tax soared since bailout
How tax soared since bailout

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Kenny if you think we are fooled by you saying the bailout of this country did not lead to higher taxes?

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It is bad enough that we have had to suffer enormous rises in incomes taxes, indirect taxes and levies and charges.

But the fact that our leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, is so out of touch in his bubble world that he thinks householders did not get hit, and hit hard, by tax rises is frankly insulting.

Mr Kenny made his crazy comments in Brussels last week when discussing proposals for higher taxes in Greece, before bailout talks broke down. The Taoiseach said proposals from Greece had to make economic sense.

"In Ireland's case, we did not increase income tax, we did not increase VAT, we did not increase PRSI, but we put up alternatives to those measures proposed in order to keep a pro-growth policy and make our country competitive, grow our economy and provide jobs for our people," he said.

But the Taoiseach's comments are simply wrong, raising questions about the competency of our Government.

This State did precisely the opposite of what he said we did - income and consumption taxes were pushed up.

VAT was raised soon after he became Taoiseach. Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) was effectively raised as the ceiling was abolished after the bailout.

The ceiling had meant you paid PRSI only on certain amounts of income.

That was before the current coalition came to power, but when it did it got rid of the PRSI weekly allowance - an amount you could earn before paying PRSI. This move meant that more than 1.1m people have to pay at least €264 each per year, many of them low paid.

And Value Added Tax (VAT) was increased in Budget 2012, which was announced in December 2011 by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The standard rate, which applies to a huge range of goods and services, was increased from 21pc to 23pc. VAT was reduced for certain sectors, such as hospitality, but for most householders it is way up.

Dr Micheál Collins of the trade union-backed Nevin Economic Research Institute has estimated that raising the standard VAT rate cost the average family €207 a year.

The current Government did not introduce the Universal Social Charge (USC). And it did take thousands of people out of the USC net, but USC is a tax on income and was introduced when the Troika come to town.

IBEC economist Fergal O'Brien said there was €7bn in extra taxes imposed during the bailout. The brunt of the income tax hikes were imposed on middle-income earners.

A family with one earner on €40,000 is paying €1,200 a year in extra income-related taxes since the Troika came here, according to Dr Collins.

And we have not mentioned property tax and water charges, both introduced by this Government. And then there is DIRT tax on savings at 41pc, one of the toughest inheritance tax regimes in the world, and levies on pensions.

Yes, Mr Kenny, we live in a low-tax nirvana. Those silly Greeks. All they have to do is pretend there are no tax rises and everything will be fine.

Irish Independent

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