Friday 13 December 2019

Tax burden on workers is 'too heavy', says Taoiseach

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny
Tanaiste Joan Burton

Niall O'Connor and Gavin McLoughlin

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has promised to lift the "too heavy" tax burden on low and middle income earners in the Budget.

Mr Kenny said that moves to reduce the marginal rate of tax, currently set at 52pc, will begin next month and continue over the next two further budgets.

Responding to yesterday's "encouraging" CSO figures, Mr Kenny said hard-pressed taxpayers can expect the government to implement measures that will focus on improving their finances over time.

But he warned that the government does not have access to "endless cheques" and that he won't get "carried out" by figures that show Ireland is now the fastest-growing economy in Europe.

"We will not allow the economy to slip backwards by the decisions we make now," Mr Kenny told reporters.

The Taoiseach added that he has had to "give out" to ministers who have spoken publicly about details in the budget.

Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister and Tanaiste Joan Burton said that the CSO figures are " not the product of a credit fuelled expansion" experienced in the days of the Celtic Tiger.

"If you were to roll the clock back 10 years ago to 2004, when we were really coming in to the higher years of the boom, the absolute characteristic of that was the construction industry and credit," she said.

"We do want to grow construction because we need more housing, but we want to do that in a careful way," she added. But the Taoiseach's focus on income tax relief indicates that the Government is moving away from the idea of reducing the highly unpopular Universal Social Charge (USC).

Speaking at the Sean Lemass awards at the Department of Education in Dublin, Mr Kenny described the rate, which is applied to incomes of above €32,800, as "too heavy" and said the tax burden most now be addressed.

The marginal rate of tax results in a worker taking home just 48c of every €1 that they earn above the €32,800 threshold.

"As I said, in respect of the burden of overall taxation of 52pc, it is too heavy so we will begin to relieve this burden starting in this budget and in the one after that and the one after that," Mr Kenny added.

Irish Independent

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