Wednesday 22 November 2017

It will take much more than full employment to fill the coffers

Public spending can't be cut, the public sector pay bill is on the rise, all that's left to square the circle is tax, and it can't be income tax

Joan Burton
Joan Burton

James Fitzsimons

If Ireland's economic performance was measured by how much income tax the state collects, 2014 was a bumper year. Gross income tax collected was €17.157bn, compared to €16.788bn in 2007. Admittedly I'm not comparing like with like. The USC (universal social charge) is included in the 2014 figure, but it wasn't there in 2007. It adds roughly 25pc to what is collected from income taxes. It's what keeps the country going and helps balance the books. We borrow the rest.

By comparison, gross income tax receipts were less than €14bn in 2010, when they had fallen the most. In fact, when tax refunds are taken into account, the net income tax collected in 2010 was only €11.266bn.

Even after refunds, tax collected in 2013 was over €15bn and that's more than 16pc higher than what it was in 2007, when the boom was in full swing. Middle-income and high earners are keeping the country solvent, but we'd sink if it wasn't for what has been taken from those on low income too.

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