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Fine Gael failed to make submission to tax commission despite Leo Varadkar’s heavy criticism


Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

FINE Gael did not make any submission to the Commission on Taxation and Welfare whose report it has heavily criticised in recent days.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said some of the commission’s recommendations were “straight out of the Sinn Féin manifesto” while other party representatives said its proposals were “completely uncosted” and “completely unworkable”.

But Fine Gael did not make any submission to the commission and neither did Fianna Fáil, it has emerged. By contrast the Green Party did submit proposals for consideration as did a number of opposition parties, including Sinn Féin, Labour and the Social Democrats.

The commission broadly recommended increasing wealth and consumption levies, whilst not increasing income taxes in the medium to long-term with proposals to hike inheritance tax and end exemptions and reliefs for retirees among the measures contained in its 500-page report.

Mr Varadkar’s comments were heavily criticised by some members of the commission with Threshold chief executive John-Mark McCafferty saying he was “stunned and disappointed” by the remarks, while the ESRI’s Barra Roantree said they were “not particularly helpful”.

Subsequent to that Fine Gael escalated its attacks, describing its final report as “completely uncosted”.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said most of the Commission on Taxation and Welfare’s proposals were “completely unworkable” - remarks that Minister of State Peter Burke said he “absolutely” agreed with at an official Fine Gael media event to outline its budget priorities on Tuesday.

Asked why it did not make a submission to the commission, a Fine Gael spokesperson said: “Fine Gael’s views regarding taxation are set out in the 2020 manifesto and carried through in the Programme for Government.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he did not agree with Mr Varadkar’s criticism of the report. His party also failed to submit any proposals for the commission to consider.

A spokesperson for Fianna Fáil said: “The Commission on Taxation and Welfare was tasked by the government to independently consider how best the taxation and welfare systems can support economic activity and promote increased employment and prosperity in Ireland.

“It wouldn’t be unusual for a government party not to make a submission to a commission so that they can remain objective.”

The Green Party’s submission was authored by Neasa Hourigan, who is currently suspended from the parliamentary party after voting against the Government on a Dáil motion regarding the National Maternity Hospital earlier this year.

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Ms Hourigan’s submission states she is writing on behalf of the Green Party and calls for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all residents of Ireland by 2024.

This payment, in conjunction with a scheme of top-up payments where appropriate, would replace the existing social welfare and pensions system under the proposals, which are longstanding Green Party policy. 

In its final report the commission explicitly recommended against introducing UBI, stating that “moving from our existing mixed model to a universal basic income model would be a fundamental and very costly change in policy – from both a social welfare and tax perspective”.

It added: “The Commission does not support this direction of travel, and believes that it is important to focus attention on concrete, affordable and achievable reforms.”

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