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Sunday 19 November 2017

Labour pushes tax hike for rich as poll raises fears over support

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

THE Labour Party is hoping to halt a worrying drop in support by walloping high earners in the Budget.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's party is only down slightly in the latest opinion poll, but the research shows there is a big threat of further losses of support.

The Irish Independent revealed last month that high earners would be targeted in the Budget.

Labour is now pushing to increase the Universal Social Charge to 10pc for anyone earning more than €100,000.

The junior coalition party sees a hike in the USC for high earners to be a follow-on from the removal of 300,000 low-paid workers from the tax last year. Ministers are considering the proposal but it's not yet clear if it will feature in the Budget.

And it is possible the income threshold for the increase will be well above €100,000.

The move would raise €71m and would see the USC rate for those on more than €100,000 rise from 7pc.

Senior party sources said the party was concerned that Budget 2013 be seen to be balanced.

But Fine Gael figures are regarded as being less enthusiastic about the measure, fearing a tax hike will cost jobs.

The push by Labour comes as an opinion poll shows the party's support is vulnerable to further losses.

The Red C opinion poll for the 'Sunday Business Post' says there has been a rise in support for Fine Gael.

Fine Gael went up two points to 34pc, Labour dropped one to 13pc and Fianna Fail went up one to 19pc. Sinn Fein and Independents dropped one to 17pc.

But there was evidence of considerable dissatisfaction with the Coalition.

The figures on how strongly committed supporters are of the two coalition parties were worrying for Labour.

On the Fine Gael side, 39pc of voters are loyal, while 46pc say they are becoming disillusioned, and 15pc are losing faith.

By contrast, 14pc of Labour voters are loyal, 52pc are becoming disillusioned, and 34pc say they are losing faith in the party.

Irish Independent

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