I just read through the latest ESRI report The Gender Impact of Tax and Benefit Changes: A Microsimulation Approach. It makes for pretty awful reading.
Up and down Ireland, in meeting with families, teachers and young adults, the collective wisdom is far superior to anything that the ESRI produces.
Regardless of gender, families know full well that they are being overtaxed by current tax policies, wage slips and bank balances remind them weekly!
The Universal Social Charge is the biggest culprit. It simply removes the benefit of various tax credits families are supposed to be receiving.
This brings me to the major issue of the day; Governments all over the world have increasingly become hostile towards working families.
With more and more corporations using creative accounting to reduce and dodge tax bills, those left holding the tax bag are families that have nowhere to hide. Apple, Starbucks…that endless list of companies that ‘base’ their operations wherever they find a willing ear and accommodating tax policy do so on the promise of jobs…from which the Government then extracts income taxes (…and charges). In Ireland, it is the employees that subsidise Apple operations yet we continue to want to believe that it is Apple that provides the benefit.
Tax policies are finally hitting the headlines because Governments increasingly realise the long term threats they pose. The current system is creaking and badly needs an overhaul. Workers are simply tapped out, they have no more to give, they are overtaxed. In the US, politicians there…especially the more informed ones know full well that the very existence of the US was built on that famous tax revolt.
In Ireland, with over 90,000 mortgage holders in arrears, many families continue to struggle. Ending the punitive USC should be the first priority. In the meantime, reducing it would go a long way and give a small boost to a lot of hard working families.
In fact, three simple measures Government could announce to assist families would be:
1. Reduce the USC by 50% in this upcoming budget and eliminate completely in 2016.
2. End the pensions levy (it is immoral).
3. Introduce a DIRT-free savings policy to encourage savings. This is the approximate point where college fees and no bank fees intersect.
Frank Conway runs Moneywhizz.org, the financial literacy programme for students and young adults.