Raise taxes to increase equality: Social Justice Ireland

Ireland cannot address the challenges ahead without increasing taxation, Social Justice Ireland has warned.

“It is not possible for Ireland to continue with its current level of taxation. We will not be able to pay the bills that are coming down the line,” director Seán Healy said yesterday.

He was speaking at the launch of the group’s pre-budget submission which states that Ireland’s total tax take is not just low, it is well below the EU average. It will not be possible to address the challenges ahead without increasing taxation, in a fair and equitable manner, it says.

The country’s tax take must move towards the EU average to provide the level of investment required for public services and social infrastructure that most people wanted.

Dr Healy said Budget 2018 should substantially increase investment in infrastructure and address major problems in services.

However, he warned that Ireland was not going to solve its greatest challenges in a single budget or a single term of office of any government.

“Addressing the country’s challenges effectively will take a decade or more,” said Dr Healy.

“Decisions will have to be made regarding priorities and sequencing. All sectors of Irish society should be involved in shaping and delivering these decisions.”

The group’s research and policy analyst Michelle Murphy said investment in infrastructure, especially social housing, was far too little and had been that way for far too long.

Social Justice Ireland accepts the fiscal space available for the budget, €350m, should be supplemented by extra resources from savings and tax changes that made the system fairer.

The group is calling for an extra €500m to be spent on social housing and for €300m more to be devoted to rural broadband.

It wants the Government to introduce a minimum 6% corporate tax rate, and a levy on undeveloped sites and empty homes.

Ms Murphy said people needed to be confident that the tax system was fair and they had a say in the decisions that affected them.

“Crucially, they also need to be convinced that the actions being taken on the economy, on society and the environment are sustainable in the long term.”

The group wants more public investment in direct residential construction.

“Given the extent of the under-supply and housing need, the traditional policy of letting local authorities provide should be expanded,” it states.

It also says €75m could be invested in the prevention of obesity and chronic disease, with the money raised by a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

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