People on low incomes are paying for tax cuts enjoyed by the better-off, opposition parties have warned.
But as the Dáil debated the budget measures, Taoiseach Enda Kenny delivered a robust defence of his Government’s intentions towards struggling families.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the poor had suffered to ease the financial burden on the wealthy.
“Instead of giving more to those who have less, the Government gives more to those who have more and less to those who have less. There is no equality, no inclusivity, and no fairness,” he said.
He said any marginal benefits enjoyed by low and medium-income earners would be erased by the imposition of water charges in January, and that those on the highest pay would have far more in their pockets than ordinary workers as a result of the tax changes.
Mr Kenny said the top tax rate on middle-income families will fall to 50% by this time next year as he seeks a fairer system for all earners.
He said Budget 2016 would build on the tax cuts announced this week, and indicated that those earning above €70,000 per year would face further hikes in the Universal Social Charge to limit their benefits from income tax reductions.
“We now have a formula for targeting tax rate reductions for low- and middle-income earners without giving disproportionate benefits to those on the highest incomes,” said Mr Kenny.
“The tax rate on middle-income families will be lowered further in Budget 2016, to at most 50%, while ensuring those on higher incomes continue to pay their fair share.”
Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the budget had been driven by short-term political interests.
“The Government delivered the first of two election budgets. It had no social economic vision, purely a political one of electoral survival,” Mr McGrath told the Dáil. “The most leaked and most spun budget in Irish history contained no objective other than trying to dig the Government out of its current deep hole.”
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly branded the budget as “politically cute and economically foolish”.
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