Business Budget 2018

Wednesday 24 January 2018

We have foolishly abandoned the idea that everyone pays something

Irish Tax Institute President Mark Barrett
Irish Tax Institute President Mark Barrett
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Middle-income families have not gained much from the Budget, but the self-employed are the big winners.

The self-employed will end up three times better off than most in terms of Budget boost.

It's also clear that the personal tax system is becoming increasingly skewed, with middle and high-income PAYE (pay as you earn) earners accounting for an even greater per­centage of the overall personal tax take.

The three lower rates of the universal social charge were cut by 0.5pc each.

The gain for a PAYE worker on €55,000 will be €278 a year. This works out at €5 a week for a married PAYE couple with one income.

That is why it was dubbed the Fiver Budget.

However, a self-employed person with children on the same single income of €55,000 will gain €778 over a year. This works out at €15 a week, according to tables from the Department of Finance. This is three times more than the PAYE worker.

Almost 150,000 self-employed people are gaining from the cuts to the USC and from the move by Finance Minister Michael Noonan to increase what is called the earned income credit.

This has increased by €400 to €950, which will mean less tax for the self-employed.

The introduction of the earned income credit is to make up for the fact that the self-employed do not get the PAYE tax credit of €1,650.

Both PAYE workers and the self-employed will gain from the cutting of the three lower rates of USC. The 1pc rate, that applies on income up to €12,012, goes to 0.5pc.

The 3pc rate goes to 2.5pc. This applies on income between €12,013 to €18,772.

And the 5.5pc rate falls to 5pc from the start of next year. This means that income between €18,772 and €70,044 will be levied for USC at 5pc.

But there was no move to cut the income tax bands - the income levels you pay at different rates.

Workers will still move into the higher 40pc band on income over €33,800.

The failure to raise the bands will mean that any promotions or wage rises middle-income workers get will be eaten up by higher taxes.

The Irish Tax Institute has pointed out that 29pc of workers pay no tax at all.

This amounts to just over 700,000 people.

And the narrowing of the tax base continued in the Budget.

The minister increased the ceiling of the band on which the reduced 2.5pc rate of USC will be payable from €18,668 to €18,772.

This move means the salary of a full-time worker on the minimum wage will remain outside the top rates of USC.

The Irish Tax Institute pointed out that the USC changes will mainly accrue to those on lower pay. A person on €18,000 will get a 15pc reduction in their tax bill.

The average worker will see a 2.7pc reduction in their tax bill. Those on €75,000 will see a 1.3pc reduction in their tax bill.


President of the Institute Mark Barrett said this left middle-income earners carrying an increasingly large burden to fund the State.

We are back to the dangerous policies of old of taking huge swathes of the workforce out of the tax net.

The idea - which was the only good aspect of the USC, that everyone who works pays something, however small - has been abandoned.

This means a heavy burden falls on those who pay for everything - the middle and higher-income groups.

The scrapping of water charges and the freezing of the property tax means the State has become increasingly reliant on ordinary income tax payers to support it.

This is why there was so little in the way of tax cuts for middle-earning PAYE workers.

We want to invest more in State services, that are proportionately needed and used by the lowest paid, but that has to be paid for by direct tax payers.

At the height of the crazy Celtic Tiger boom, a whopping 42pc of workers paid no income tax.

This fell to 12pc with the introduction of the USC - as one of the core principles of that levy was that everyone should contribute something.

We are now back to a situation where 29pc paid no direct income taxes.

This is a result of the hard left in the Dáil hijacking the political agenda, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil aping their disregard for how to properly fund State spending.

Irish Independent

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