That’s according to the Think-tank for Action on Social Change (Tasc) who yesterday called for the introduction of a 48% tax band for those earning more than €100,000, at their annual conference in Croke Park.
The group also suggested reducing tax reliefs on items such as pensions and health insurance, which they claim benefit higher earners.
In his address to the conference, Tasc director Nat O’Connor said that Ireland had comparably low levels of taxation at just three-quarters the EU average and that there was scope to raise tax on those who could afford to pay it. Dr O’Connor also outlined his belief that Irish society was split between those with ‘good’ jobs and those without work or on low-paying or part-time jobs.
“If you can get one of the increasingly elusive good jobs, then you can probably afford the car, the house and to bring up your family with some dignity. But there are simply not enough jobs to go around and the forces of globalisation and technological change help explain why this has happened, with computers reducing the need for clerical workers.
“Extreme inequality has very real consequences. Social mobility is lower in Ireland than European countries, while inter-generational poverty and deprivation are high,” he said.
Dr O’Connor called for amendments to be made to the Irish social insurance system too — particularly employer’s social insurance — to provide stronger state pensions and higher income replacement when people lose their jobs.
The think-tank also outlined a number of measures to tackle growing economic inequality, including:
• Targeted investment in key infrastructure such as clean energy.
• Enshrining collective bargaining and other trade union rights in law.
• Reducing the cost of basics like food, energy, transport and housing.
• Accelerating the drive to a universal health healthcare system.
• Developing and implementing a comprehensive social and affordable housing strategy.
Also speaking at the event, economist and author Thomas Piketty criticised the Government over the property tax introduced in Ireland last year, saying it should be based on net wealth rather than property values. He also said the economic crisis had resulted in rising inequality, echoing Dr O’Connor’s claims of a deeply-divided society.