Survey shows most people think tax system treats self-employed 'unfairly'

A survey has found that the majority of taxpayers believe higher taxes on the self-employed are “unfair”.

The Taxpayer Sentiment Survey 2018 of 3,000 taxpayers by tax refund specialists has revealed that 79% believe that the self-employed are treated “unfairly” to some extent when it comes to tax obligations.

It also found that, of this group, 45% believe the system to be “totally discriminatory”.

Barry Flanagan, Director at, said: “According to Census 2016 figures, there are over 300,000 self-employed people in Ireland - approximately 17% the country’s workforce. The tax treatment of this cohort of worker is something that’s never far from public discourse.

"The way our system is structured now means that if a self-employed person earns over €100k a year they pay a higher rate of USC and miss out on the PAYE tax credit.

"Also, those on lower incomes who work for themselves are worse off than those PAYE workers on low incomes, as they must pay higher rates of PRSI.

"Obviously, there is some rationale behind this structure, but whether it amounts to a ‘fair and equitable system’ is the source of much debate. And it’s pretty clear from our survey what the general public think.”

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