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Top 450 richest people paid average taxes of €750,000

WHEN Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary handed over his €14m tax cheque at Government Buildings in October 2003, little did he know how that cheque would dwarf others being written by the super-wealthy a few years down the line.

The 450 wealthiest people in Ireland paid on average about €750,500 each in tax last year -- about a twentieth of the tax bill paid by O'Leary in the Celtic Tiger days of 2003.

The total amount of tax collected from the super wealthy is now about half of what it was before the recession took hold.

In 2007, the unit set up by the Revenue Commissioners to monitor the tax affairs of the super-rich -- known as the high-wealth unit -- collected €544m in taxes. However, the amount of tax collected by that unit dived to €337.7m last year.

The stalemate in the property market continues to eat into state coffers. In 2007 -- the year the Irish property market started to collapse -- about €157m in capital gains tax was collected from the super-rich. This is about eight times the amount of capital gains tax (tax collected from the buying and selling of property) paid by the wealthy elite last year. Only €19.7m of capital gains tax was collected from the super-rich in 2010.

"The figures reflect the economic position over the last four years," said a spokeswoman for the Revenue.