3 November 2005 Edition

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Two-tier wage and tax gap widens

BY ROBBIE SMYTH

Inequality - Super rich benefit from self-regulation

Congratulations if you fall into one of the following occupations, you are probably part of Ireland's super rich, high-income, tax-free elite. Figures released by Finance Minister Brian Cowen show landlords, accountants, tax and management consultants, dentists, large farmers, doctors, hospital consultants and barristers are all part of an elite group who earn over €200,000 annually.

In 2002 there were 10,562 people in this group, with 39,300 earning more than €127,000 which would have been IR£100,000 in the pre-euro days.

The number of people in the top earning bracket has increased by 400% over the last five years, while there has not been the same transformation for those on low incomes. This year just over one million people will be earning less than €30,000 compared 1.26 million in 2001.

Last February, the former Competition Authority chairperson, while launching a preliminary report on the Irish legal profession described it as unjustifiably restricted by legislation, regulation and conventions that have built up over decades if not centuries.

It seems from the Department of Finance figures that the medical, legal and property professions benefit from archaic self regulation that enriches its practitioners at the cost of its customers, while the majority of workers in the low paid PAYE tax net are meticulously regulated in comparison.

St Vincent De Paul launched their budget submission this week highlighting the 600,000 people living in poverty in the 26 Counties today. How many of these people are living in accommodation rented to them by landlords in the super rich tier of Irish society?


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