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'We dropped tax plan weeks ago'

LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday claimed his decision to drop the party's proposal for a 48pc tax rate was made in the wake of last month's Budget -- even though it was only announced at the weekend.

The suggested top rate of tax for people earning over €100,000 has been a central plank of Labour's economic policy for two years, but it was suddenly dropped just days in advance of the start of the general election campaign.

Like the Labour plan for a €500m jobs fund, the cost of the move has not yet been revealed. However, Mr Gilmore insisted the details of both will be released later in the week.

It came as the party faced claims there are too many differences between it and Fine Gael, its likely partners in coalition, and consistent FG claims that Labour will raise taxes.

The party is also watching Sinn Fein threaten its left flank, and the decision to drop the top tax rate led Sinn Fein to claim Labour is tailoring its plans to suit Fine Gael.

But Mr Gilmore said Labour is fighting the election on its own platform.

"We've always been mindful of the top marginal rate of tax," Mr Gilmore said. "When you take the level of tax and PRSI and levies and so on into account, it shouldn't go beyond 55pc."

Mr Gilmore said the introduction of the Universal Social Charge (USC) made them rethink their plans.

Irish Independent