Saturday 20 January 2018

Brendan Keenan: Tax system needs overhaul but leaders lack the nerve

Stephen Byrne's cartoon
Stephen Byrne's cartoon

OCCASIONALLY -- just occasionally, politicians get the chance to do the right thing when it is also the popular thing. That chance may present itself to this Government, with the prospect of some adjustment (we'll come to "cuts" later) to income taxes. There is already a remarkable amount of talk about this, given that nothing will happen until October's Budget -- if then.

The Taoiseach has spoken. Priority will be given, he says, to the "very high tax rates" faced by middle-income families. Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton has spoken. His concern is for the high-income, high-skilled people that he says we must attract and retain to fuel growth.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and junior minister Brian Hayes zeroed in the on the universal social charge (USC). Mr Hayes described the USC as a "recession tax." That seems fair enough. It is crude, simple and raises lots of revenue.

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