[Sinn Fein]

29 May 1997

Doherty criticises failure in relation to cross border workers

Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty while canvassing in Lifford this afternoon with former Councillor Liam McElhinney called on Government and Opposition parties to fulfil promises to the electorate to remove the anomalies and inequities arising from the dual taxation of cross border workers.

Mr. Doherty said:

``People on the doorsteps this afternoon were highly critical of the failure of the Rainbow Coalition and its predecessor to resolve the issue of cross border workers. Sinn Fein believe that it is entirely unacceptable that people who work in the north and live in the south are subject to double taxation. While we welcomed the removal of levies on those working in the north but living in the south this is still a long way from promises to remove the anomalies and inequities arising from the dual taxation of cross border workers.

``The 10,000 plus Irish workers who are caught in the double-tax trap created by the 26-County and British tax systems are victims of an unjust and inequitable application of tax policy. There are four factors not currently addressed in taxation policy in regard to cross border workers:

  1. The divergence of salaries between the two economies, a divergence created partly by the fact that income tax in the 26 Counties is substantially higher than that levied in the Six Counties. In other words gross wages are, on average, 15 to 20% lower in the North. Currently this is not seen as a relevant issue by the Revenue Commissioners. This imbalance should be recognised when assessing cross border workers' tax contribution.
  2. The taxation of pensions in the 26 Counties of residents who are already levied under the British tax regime is also an inequity. In many cases people in this situation are on low incomes and the loss of income by double taxation will be substantial. Again this is wrong.
  3. The fact that double taxation can in some cases differ on the perceived nationality of a resident highlights the arbitrary application of taxation policy. It is wrong that nationality should be used against some residents forcing them to pay higher taxes than others in identical situations.
  4. The fact that double taxation does not affect certain designated civil servants and government workers again highlights the arbitrary nature of the taxation system.

``Sinn Fein has raised the concerns of cross border workers on many occasions and will continue to do so.

``Finally, while recognising the current inequities of the taxation regime in Ireland and supporting the demand that the double taxation issue be equitably addressed, it must be recognised that the problem exists as a consequence of Britain's undemocratic partition of Ireland.

``We also believe that the best long-term solution is the creation of a democratic island economy where such inequitable taxation is replaced with a fair, transparent and equitable tax regime.''

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