Varadkar pledges income tax cuts if re-elected as Taoiseach

Varadkar pledges income tax cuts if re-elected as Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar has kickstarted Fine Gael's election campaign by pledging to cut income tax more if returned as Taoiseach, as he attacked the opposition for boom and bust economics of the past.

Mr Varadkar laid out fresh tax promises for the next five years if Fine Gael remains in power.

His comments to a 2,500-strong crowd at City West in Dublin came after sustained suggestions by ministers during the day that Fine Gael is “election ready”.

The Taoiseach outlined how Fine Gael in government over the last three budgets had increased the point at which people pay the higher rate of tax.

The point at which people pay the rate of 40% on income rose in the recent budget from €34,550 to €35,300. Mr Varadkar said he wanted to go further.

So, over the next five budgets, we will commit to increase the point at which people pay the top rate of tax to €50,000 for a single person or €100,000 for a two income couple.

“We will end this unfairness and allow hard-working people keep more of the money they earn,” he told delegates.

The changes would likely see taxpayers get back hundreds of euro annually in their pockets.

The savings could amount to potentially €3,000 over the five years per worker.

Elsewhere, Mr Varadkar launched attacks on the Opposition, zoning in on Fianna Fail as well as Sinn Fein.

In general, he said Fine Gael when in government in the past had “rescued our economy on more than one occasion when it was sabotaged by others”.

He also said it was not easy negotiating with Fianna Fail and its frontbench to renew the confidence and supply agreement with the Opposition party.

Mr Varadkar said the “reckless economic mismanagement of the past was unfair” to all, adding:

“It resulted in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, public services slashed, taxes hiked and future generations burdened with a huge national debt.”

Outlining other promises, the Taoiseach said that Fine Gael wanted to provide more than 100,000 homes over the next ten years for people on the housing list.

He also criticised spending plans and ideas of other parties.

“They seek to buy your vote using your credit card to pay for it.”

He added: "We all know the Fianna Fáil motto: ‘when we have it, we spend it’. We all know where that led us.

“And we’re not going back. Sinn Féin and the parties of the hard Left are even worse.

“When they don’t have it – they’ll just borrow it.

We know those policies will put Ireland back on the road to recession and austerity and we won’t allow that.

The pledge to further reduce income tax for workers as well as the attack on Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein came after sustained suggestions by ministers during the day that the party was “election ready”.

There is also mounting frustration within Fine Gael over the pace of the government support pact talks with Fianna Fail.

Several ministers have warned that some guarantee is needed from Fianna Fail and that the negotiations to renew the pact must conclude soon.

Mr Varadkar, who said earlier today that the party was “almost” election ready, concluded his speech this evening by promising to keep Ireland's recovery underway.

“We are the party that will take Ireland forward to long-term prosperity, away from the boom and bust economics of the past.”

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