Gilmore gives glimmer of hope for tax cuts to help 'coping classes'
Hard-pressed families could get a break within two years
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore wants tax cuts for hard-pressed working families.
Mr Gilmore has given a fresh glimmer of hope to the so-called 'coping classes' who have been hit hard by a series of tax hikes over the past five years.
In an exclusive interview with the Irish Independent, the Tanaiste gave a clear indication he will seek to target the votes of Middle Ireland in the run-up to the next general election.
He said that as the economy picks up he felt that it might be possible to ease the tax burden on working people.
Mr Gilmore did not rule out the tax relief coming in the lifetime of the Government, although he was cautious not to make specific promises.
The Coalition is expected to attempt to provide some relief to taxpayers in either 2015 or 2016, focusing on low and middle income earners in particular.
Ahead of the Labour Party conference in Killarney this weekend, Mr Gilmore has become the first senior Cabinet minister -- and the first from the junior coalition party -- to join the calls for income tax relief.
Although there were no changes to income tax in Budget 2014, Mr Gilmore's statement marks a significant shift for Labour, which had previously been focused on bringing in a wealth tax. Mr Gilmore has seen a slight improvement in his party's downward spiral in the opinion polls, but clearly hopes the party can recover further ground.
He is expected to pitch a large part of his conference speech at working families.
After the exit from the bailout, Mr Gilmore says the Government has to continue to create jobs, and people need to begin to see modest improvements in their lives.
The Tanaiste said the medical card for children under six, school book schemes, measures on school uniforms and tax relief for home improvement in Budget 2014 were all steps in that direction.
"All of that is aimed at taking pressure off families and begin to see some modest improvement in living circumstances and quality of life for people," he said.
But Mr Gilmore said he did feel the tax burden on working families could also be reduced -- be it through cuts to rates, widening of bands or increases in credits.
"I think as the financial circumstance of the country improves, I would hope that it would be possible to ease the tax pressure on working people.
"But I think it's important that we don't start committing to spending or to measures before we have the ability to meet them," he told this newspaper.
Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor