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Taxation

While Corporation Tax has provided a buffer for the Irish economy for some years now, a significant decrease in October 2020 once again underscores the need to rethink our taxation sytem, particularly in the context of Ireland's recovery from the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In today's article, we examine effective income tax rates for different household-types in Ireland after Budget 2021, and compare them with rates in previous years.

Budget 2021 must be judged by the degree to which it protects people from poverty, equips people and businesses to confront Covid-19 and Brexit, and addresses the climate and environmental crisis. The challenge for Government is to use the fiscal space available to introduce the necessary measures to support incomes and underpin the public health measures to save lives, preserve our economic capacity and prepare for the impact of a no-deal Brexit.  Its response to this challenge in Budget 2021 has been mixed.

For the years 2020-2022, or until Ireland reaches full employment (if earlier than 2022), the fiscal stance adopted by Ireland should be determined by an unemployment target, rather than a deficit target, in recognition of the role domestic demand plays in sustaining domestic employment. The State should begin to plan now for the additional tax measures necessary, over the long-term, to finance the Government expenditure required to finance universal services and income supports for our citizens.

Budget 2021 follows a series of budgets over recent years that have frequently given emphasis to providing reductions in income taxation. Here we compare the total annual value of these reductions between 2014 and 2020.  

The most competitive economies of Europe all collect substantially more tax than Ireland does. The evidence suggests that a low tax, low service strategy for attracting investment is short-sighted and that quality education, infrastructure and services are far more important.

Budget 2021 should include a tax on windfall gains from the re-zoning of agricultural land. This money should be made available to local authorities and used to address the ongoing housing problems they face.


‘A Rising Tide Failing to Lift All Boats’ is the latest publication in Social Justice Ireland’s European Research Series.   This report analyses performance in areas such as poverty and inequality, employment, access to key public services and taxation.  The report also points to key policy proposals and alternatives for discussion.  These include the right to sufficient income, meaningful work and access to essential quality services.  The policy proposals explore how these areas might be delivered upon in a changing world.

If a government is setting environmental goals, it is important that its taxation system supports these goals. There is great scope in Ireland for shifting the burden of taxation away from productive activity and onto activity which reduces social wellbeing, depletes natural resources and biodiversity, harms the environment, and contributes to climate change. The taxes that people and organisations pay should, to the greatest extent possible, be based on the value they subtract by their use of common resources.

The full cost to Ireland of the COVID-19 pandemic is as yet unknown.  Our unemployment rate was 16.5 per cent in March 2020 and the Stability Programme Update (SPU) estimates a possible general government deficit of €23 billion this year; and the Exchequer receipts for March 2020 were almost €1 billion lower than March 2019Social Justice Ireland recently published our briefing on policy options for Ireland’s Taxation System post-COVID 19.  Here we explore one option in particular, an increase in Corporation Tax.

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