Home > Uncategorized > For a More Equitable Tax System-Make the Super-Rich Pay Their Fair Share To Adequately Fund Our Public Services

For a More Equitable Tax System-Make the Super-Rich Pay Their Fair Share To Adequately Fund Our Public Services

Seamus Healy TD Tells The Government in the Dáil: Pay The Nurses by Taxing The Massive and Growing Wealth of the Irish Super-Rich

Having worked 21 years at South Tipperary General Hospital, I know the pressure nurses and staff are under. The hospital works at 125% capacity, when normal capacity should be in the region of 85%. It has one of the highest trolley counts in the country. Mental health services are understaffed and under-resourced.

Dáil Speech  https://wp.me/pKzXa-1ew

I believe nurses are fighting a battle to establish and restore a civilised society in Ireland

I have been a trade union activist all of my working life. I was a member of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, the Federation of Rural Workers, the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union and the Irish Local Government Officials Union, now called Fórsa. I have represented that union at national level and been president of the Clonmel Trades and Labour Council. I have been on the picket line with nurses at South Tipperary General Hospital and Nenagh General Hospital in the past two weeks. I fully support their claims and believe the industrial action they are taking is fully justified. It is about fair pay and conditions of employment, but it is also about safe staffing levels, the safety of patients and the provision of a quality health service.

The Government spin against the nurses is shameful. Everybody in this House, including the Minister, knows that the health service is in a shambles. They know that patient safety is at risk every day. Cancellations occur every day of the year. A colleague of mine had his cardiac bypass surgery cancelled on two occasions. Having worked 21 years at South Tipperary General Hospital, I know the pressure nurses and staff are under. The hospital works at 125% capacity, when normal capacity should be in the region of 85%. It has one of the highest trolley counts in the country. Mental health services are understaffed and under-resourced. The acute inpatient service is non-existent, having been closed by Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the last Government. The pay agreement cited by the Government does not represent a pay increase. It is a pay restoration agreement which does not even fully restore pay to the previous levels. I believe public representatives should support the nurses. One thing we can do is call on all of our supporters to be at the Garden of Remembrance next Saturday at 12.30 p.m. to support the demonstration called by the nurses.

I believe nurses are fighting a battle to establish and restore a civilised society in Ireland. They are fighting to ensure all Irish people will have adequate and effective healthcare. More than that, they are fighting for priority to be given to caring human values over the greed of the super-rich. It is the greed of the super-rich and the feeding of that greed which are the driving principles of the Government, not just its Fine Gael component. The Taoiseach told us that the Government would have to borrow money to meet the claims of the nurses. That statement is shamefully and demonstrably untrue. Anybody who doubts it might read the 2019 report of Social Justice Ireland which was published recently. The Government states meeting the nurses’ claims would cost €300 million per year. The unions dispute this and point out that many of the resources required could be found by reducing the dependence on agency nursing. Even if the Government’s claim was correct, the amount of money is minuscule compared to the untaxed, massive and growing wealth of the Irish super rich. The Minister and the Government need to make the super rich pay their fair share of taxation. There is massive wealth in the country and a disproportionate share is owned by the super rich. According to the Central Statistics Office, there are 25,700 individuals who earn between €200,000 and €2 million per year. In the last budget not only were no additional taxes placed on them but the Minister for Finance gave them tax relief, as he had done in the previous two budgets. The money is available to resolve the dispute. The Government simply has to address the very wealthy people who have billions of euro above the peak boom levels in 2007 and 2008. The Minister should resolve the dispute by acceding to the requests of the nurses. The Government should resign and allow the people to make a decision on what will happen in the future.

—————————————————————–Fr Seán Healy: We need an extra €2.5bn – €3bn in tax if we are serious about addressing the deficits in our society

It is simply not possible to provide the high-quality public services Irish people aspire to having while failing to collect adequate revenue to pay for them.

Irish people and Irish policymakers need to recognise that European-average levels of services and infrastructure cannot be delivered without European-average levels of taxation.

Monday, February 04, 2019 – 04:27 PM

Ireland needs to have a real debate about the level of public services and social infrastructure it wishes to have in the coming decades and how these are to be financed, writes Eamon Murphy.

Eamon Murphy is the Economic & Social Analyst, Social Justice Ireland.

Full SJI Document     Social Justice Matters 2019

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5720426/socialjusticematters2019.pdf

GOVERNMENT policy at the moment is to reduce total revenue – of which tax is by far the largest component – as a percentage of national income. With that will come a corresponding real reduction in expenditure.

However, Ireland already experiences significant deficits in services and infrastructure when compared to the EU-15 norm, and this gap cannot be closed by continuing to invest less than our European peers.

By any realistic measure, Ireland is a low-tax economy.

Would you pay more tax for improved public services?

As a policy objective it can remain so, but should not be incapable of providing the economic, social and infrastructural requirements necessary to support employment, underpin living standards, and complete our convergence with the rest of Europe.

Impressive economic growth should be seen as an opportunity to increase expenditure on our depleted social infrastructure, not to reduce taxes.

Consequently, Social Justice Ireland believes that Ireland should aim to collect an additional €2.5bn to €3bn per annum in taxation.

This calculation is based on an estimation of Ireland’s actual economic growth figures – factoring out so-called “leprechaun economics” – as well as on per capita taxation numbers and predicted population growth.

It also takes into account the estimated gap between Ireland’s actual tax-take and the tax-take needed to provide a level of public services consistent with the expectations of a developed European country.

The need for a broader more stable tax base is a lesson painfully learned by Ireland during the financial crisis. The overreliance on a small handful of revenue sources resulted in almost 25% of tax revenues disappearing in the space of a few months, plunging the exchequer and the country into a series of fiscal policy crises.

READ MORE:Call for five-year plan to eradicate poverty in Ireland

This broader base and increased take must be achieved in a fair, equitable and sustainable manner. Those who benefit the most from Ireland’s economic system must contribute their fair share.

Social Justice Ireland advocates:

a minimum effective corporation tax rate of 6 per cent; the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax in line with proposals outlined by the European Commission and accepted by leading EU member states; a Site Value Tax, rather than the current Property Tax, which would perform the dual role of raising revenue and discouraging land-hoarding; a restoration of the 80% windfall gains tax on the profits generated from land re-zoning; and a reform of tax-based reliefs and incentives, particularly those accruing to high income individuals.

Pension-related tax incentives are in particular need of reform as in their current format they redistribute income towards the better off in society.

Well-structured efficient tax systems help reallocate capital to productive investment and away from speculative finance, rent-seeking activity, and actions that cause environmental damage, whilst also incentivising employment and other productive activity. Making income tax credits refundable would help make low-paid work more rewarding, thereby encouraging employment.

There may be scope for reductions in income tax if these are done in an equitable manner and the foregone revenue can be raised elsewhere.

It has long been a key part of Ireland’s industrial strategy to use a low headline corporation tax rate to attract foreign direct investment.

The Apple ruling of 2016 is by far the best example of how this policy has led to reputational damage due to the utilisation of the Irish tax regime by transnational corporations to avoid paying tax.

A crucial medium-term priority must be the re-conceptualisation of the role of the Irish corporation tax regime.

There has been a growing international focus on the way transnationals manage their tax affairs and the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profits Shifting (BEPS) examination has established the manner by which transnationals exploit international tax structures to minimise their tax liability.

Reform is inevitable and Ireland should change its stance towards the corporation tax debate in Europe by taking the lead in negotiating Europe-wide minimum headline and effective corporation tax rates.

When a country is setting social and economic goals, it is important that these goals are supported by taxation policy.

It is simply not possible to provide the high-quality public services Irish people aspire to having while failing to collect adequate revenue to pay for them.

Irish people and Irish policymakers need to recognise that European-average levels of services and infrastructure cannot be delivered without European-average levels of taxation.

Eamon Murphy is the Economic & Social Analyst, Social Justice Ireland.

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