8 February 2007 Edition

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Finance Bill: Unfair tax advantages for rich continue

Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Brian Cowen

Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Brian Cowen

Government gives more wealth to the wealthy


Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has accused Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Brian Cowen of “redistributing wealth regressively in favour of the already wealthy”.

He was speaking on the 26-County Finance Bill 2007 in the Dáil on Tuesday evening.

Ó Caoláin went on to attack the decision by the government to, in effect, incentivise the purchase of high carbon emitting vehicles.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:

“Under this government’s tenure, successive income tax cuts have benefited high-income individuals more, in real terms, than those on low-incomes. Tax expenditures have redistributed wealth regressively in favour of the already wealthy.

“If, as the government claims, they were using the tax system to ensure that those on low and middle incomes benefited from the economic boom, they would be eliminating unfair tax advantages for the wealthy, reviewing VAT charges which hit low-income families hardest, and increasing the restrictions on the use of specified tax reliefs for high income individuals.

“The reality is that those just below the average industrial wage, people on €30,000 per annum, gained least per week from this Budget. As I pointed out during the debate on the Budget, workers on €30,000 per annum gained €8 per week compared to gains of at least twice as much per week for those above €35,000.

“One of the most bizarre aspects of the Budget, and the Finance Bill, was the announcement of a delayed introduction of a higher rate of motor tax for high-emission vehicles. The higher rate of motor tax announced for high emission vehicles is not coming into effect until this time next year and then only for vehicles registered after January 2008.

“Why did the government purposely give people a year’s notice of this measure, amounting to an incentive to purchase high emitting vehicles throughout 2007?

“Sales of SUVs and other such vehicles soared during the month of January. As other governments across the globe face up to the reality of climate change and move to implement measures to reduce emissions, this government is long-fingering even these minor measures which would receive substantial support from the public. This is totally unacceptable.

“There are a number of measures in the legislation which I would like to welcome.

“These include keeping those on the minimum wage out of the tax net, though we had hoped to see a more substantial increase in the wage rate and that those on the average industrial wage are to be kept within the standard tax band.”



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