Pension levy ‘grand theft’ must not continue

In Tuesday’s Irish Examiner editorial, it was suggested that if the Government was to extend the pension levy imposed on the private sector several years ago, it would be an unacceptable breach of faith.

Let’s not forget that the rate had already been increased despite an assurance that would not happen.

It has raised over €2.3bn for the exchequer, and Finance Minister Michael Noonan just might think he had rediscovered the goose that laid the golden egg. He should think again. It may be more than the property tax but that latter tax has some semblance of fairness.

Most of us who suffer from this levy would argue that not only would its extension be more than just an unacceptable breach of faith, it would be an ignominious continuation of the grand theft Government has perpetrated on those of us who are providing for our future.

At a time when most of us are finding it difficult to make ends meet, with our pension provisions already taking a beating from greedy rip-off pension companies and an uncertain market, Government by its actions is helping to put nails in the coffin of private pension provision.

Rather than assist those of us trying to provide for ourselves, not just falling back on the State in our old age, Government has chosen to penalise us instead. There is already a problem with the long-term provision of pensions not only for the private sector but also for those in the public sector.

It’s a problem that is hundreds of billions of euro deep. Clearly Government looks to this as a problem someone else will have to face, namely our children and their children for generations to come.

Most of us suffering from the imposition of this levy did not and will not consider it tolerable. It is theft and nothing but theft.

It is questionable if it is even allowed by the Constitution. It only affects the private sector and has no impact on the public sector.

I noted in my recent pension statement that the levy was now being shown as a separate item on the annual performance report. I’ve never noticed it before but it does tend to get one focused on the issue and get us to see that not only are the pension companies, banks among them, gouging us but so is Government.

In recent weeks, pension companies also suggested that over the life of the levy, some €9,000 per person on average would be taken from our pension funds.

The more we save the more they — Government and pension companies — take from us. In that respect, it’s much like the property tax — the more we improve our homes out of taxed resources, the more property tax is demanded from us. The pension levy theft affects our pensions not just for one year but as long as we draw down our pension.

The vast bulk of us private sector workers do not have the benefit of defined benefit pensions unlike the public sector.

While the public sector, already better paid than the private sector, now makes some contribution towards pension provision, it goes nowhere close to meeting the cost of the ultimate pension the sector will obtain.

In effect, this levy is to ensure the public sector, including the politicians with their platinum pensions, continue to enjoy the largesse of the State whilst those who make the pensions possible are destined to a possible retirement of scratching to survive.

Government dare not extend this levy any further if it wishes to survive the upcoming election. Not only that but it needs to ensure that we are given some form of credit for the money taken from us.

Finally, as suggested elsewhere, we should be allowed to dispense with the pension company gougers and save our own pensions in long-term locked-in pension accounts, possibly in the post office or in credit unions, that can only be drawn down on retirement.


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