To tax, or not to tax…That is the question
Well, actually, it isn’t. Everybody has to pay their way. We know this.
The problem lies in just how much tax we pay, and at what rates.
I am well paid for my work on 96FM. I won’t lie about it; I earn a very nice wage, and I’m grateful for that. The Queen Bee also has a decent job and earns a solid wage.
She went back to college once the children were old enough and worked damn hard to earn herself a First Class Honours degree. She works – I can tell you – a hell of a lot harder than I do, and earns every penny she gets to bring home.
We both realise that as a family we have landed on our feet, with two good jobs, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that we can pay all our bills, keep a nice home of which we are very proud, and are lucky enough to be able to afford a decent holiday every Summer.
These are privileges and we recognise that with those privileges, comes a responsibility (and a willingness, have no doubt about that) to pay a fair amount of tax – “fair” being the operative word.
However, what happens to us once a month when the wages land in the bank is not “fair”. I won’t give you a figure, but we are hammered, battered and gouged by the taxman.
Why does this happen? I’ll tell you why. It’s because the high rate of PAYE kicks in at a ridiculously low level in this country.
Currently, one goes onto the higher tax rate at about €35k.
The Average Industrial Wage in Ireland is subject to the top rate.
That is ridiculous.
In the UK you can earn the equivalent of just under €52k, before you enter the top rate.
At the Fine Gael Ard Fheis last weekend, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that if they stayed in power, over five budgets, they would up the entry level to the top rate to €50k.
Realistically, we all know that actually being able to afford it will take closer to 10 budgets, but for many middle-income families, those words were music to their ears.
Watching social media in the wake of that speech was as predictable as it was depressing.
How dare a Taoiseach suggest that middle income earners might get to take home a bit more of their hard-earned pay? “Looking after the rich again,” went the tweets.
For the love of God, what is the definition of rich in this country? A Garda married to a nurse? Are they rich? A teacher whose partner is a factory worker? Are they rich?
It’s those people will benefit from a change in entry to the top rate – obviously, so too will the guy on €150k – but it’ll mean less to him.
For the ordinary family in the “squeezed middle”, a change in those bands might mean being able to afford a holiday, or to do some work on the house. Isn’t that money better in their pockets than in the taxman’s till?
We hear constantly from the left in Irish politics, that those who earn very high wages ought to pay significantly more tax.
Some have suggested that for a wage of over 100k, there should be a third rate – maybe as high as 48% for earnings over the “ton”.
Quite frankly, I’d have no issue with that.
The squeezed middle – the person on €40k to 60k – is paying quite enough already, and the Taoiseach is right – he’s not right all the time – he certainly wasn’t right when he signed off on that stupid “video ad” for the Ard Fheis (cringe…) but he’s right about tax.
It’s time to start giving something back to the people who pay for everything.