[Sinn Fein]

6th February 2003

Finance Bill is another missed opportunity

Commenting on the publication of the Finance Bill, Sinn Fein Finance spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said it left the inequitable tax system unreformed. He said:

The Finance Bill contains no surprises and it is business as usual at the Department of Finance. We will have another year of inequity in the way the tax code is applied and ineffiencies in how taxes are collected.

There is an urgent need not just for wholesale reform of the tax code but the widest possible debate on how to create a just and efficient tax system.

The National Economic and Social Council report released last November highlighted over •9.8 billion in lost tax revenue through the vast array of reliefs and avoidance schemes set up by successive governments, often to aid the already wealthy in our society. The measures announced today involve only a minor tinkering with this system. Where is the much-needed review?

Also absent is any recognition of the concern highlighted in last September s Comptroller and Auditor General s report which found that substantial amounts of tax were inappropriately written off by the Revenue Commissioners.

Last December, a study by the Revenue Commissioners found that a quarter of the State s highest earners pay no tax at all. Yet just last week we found in the documentation released under the Freedom of Information Act from the government Tax Strategy Group that one in three tax payers will be paying income tax at the top rate by the end of the year, even though Charlie McCreevy s own target is that only one in five workers will be paying the top rate of tax.

While some loopholes are closed in this Finance Bill the basically inequitable tax regime is unreformed and it is the ordinary taxpayer who pays the price.

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