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Friday 14 December 2018

Varadkar promises full equality for the self-employed when it comes to income tax

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Tom Honan/PA)
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar used his address at the weekend’s Fine Gael Árd Fheis to promise full equality for the self-employed when it comes to income tax as well as a ‘safety’ net if they lose their jobs.

The commitment will be welcomed by farm organisations which hit out at the Government’s move in the Budget to €200 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit to €1,350 as not going far enough.

IFA president Joe Healy said that the “the Government continues to discriminate between employees and the self-employed in the income tax system.

“It is simply not right that a farmer earning €16,500 will be paying €300 a year more in income tax than a PAYE employee next year.

“The Government has reneged on a clear commitment in the Programme for Government that they would reach parity, of €1,650, by 2018,” he said. 

In his speech, Varadkar said: “I’ll never be found wanting when it comes to standing up for the self-employed – our shopkeepers, our solicitors, our auctioneers, our plumbers, and our farmers.

“I know how hard the self-employed work on every main street, side street, and shopping centre in Ireland, and in every small business.

“They create their own jobs and create jobs for others.

“I know the risks they take, and I know how hard it can be to do the simplest things like take a day off for a family funeral or a First Holy Communion.

“I want full equality for the self-employed when it comes to income tax.  There’s no reason why someone who’s self-employed should pay more income tax than those of us who are PAYE.

“And a safety net for a self-employed person who loses their job or business through no fault of their own,” he said.

Also in his speech and in a move reminiscent of Celtic Tiger-era party conferences, the Fine Gael leader told his Ard Fheis that if re-elected he will cut tax bills by up to €3,000.

By raising tax bands over five years, the Taoiseach pledged to bring the rate at which workers start paying the top rate to €50,000.

At present, people can earn up €35,550 before being hit with the higher tax rate.

The move would see an additional €3,000 in the pocket of someone earning €50,000 who would pay 20pc on their entire earnings at the end of the five years under the proposals.

The move would cost €600m per year and benefit 920,000 workers.

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