Renua Ireland has promised to tax everyone at a flat 23% rate, including the unemployed, if elected to government and to scrap the television licence as part of radical pre-budget proposals.
Party leader Lucinda Creighton defended the proposals, saying they were costed and its tax proposal was “non-negotiable” if the party was asked to enter government following the general election.
Renua Ireland also proposes limiting public sector pensions to a maximum €60,000 a year, replacing motor tax with a charge at the pumps, and abolishing tax reliefs for the rich.
The party says USC, different income tax rates, and employers’ PRSI should all be scrapped and replaced by one flat rate at 23%. It would be phased in ultimately over a three-year period for everyone in the State.
The party estimates the flat tax would bring in at least €11.8bn and the remainder of funds needed to recoup any lost tax income could be supplemented by investment and consumer spending and abolishing tax reliefs.
Ms Creighton defended the move to tax those on social welfare, saying there would be a transition period.
The party believes that the move would also encourage more people to work. It says that Singapore and Estonia successfully operate flat taxes. Moreover, it argues that some millionaires and billionaires currently pay less than 23%, availing of tax reliefs that should be abolished.
The party wants to scrap the television licence fee, which costs households €160, as it gives RTÉ an “unfair advantage” over competitors such as TV3 and UTV, it said.
Economist and party president Eddie Hobbs pointed out that workers would keep some 77% of what they earn with the flat tax.
“We estimate for most citizens that will be the equivalent of three months less spent each year working for the taxman.”
Renua also want public sector pensions capped at €60,000 and for those on higher pensions to go into defined contribution schemes.
Renua says it has 12 candidates ready for the election, will announce another three next week and will have at least one running in 40 constituencies when voters go to the polls.
Fianna Fáil yesterday said the party — which is only six months old — was desperate for attention.
“It is an economically illiterate proposal favoured only by eccentrics and the super-rich,” said the party’s Dublin Bay South candidate councillor, Jim O’Callaghan.
Kevin Humphries, the junior social protection minister, said the proposed flat tax would see the poorest of society paying the same tax as the richest.
Mr Humphries, also competing with Ms Creighton for a seat in Dublin Bay South, said: “Right-wing republican candidates in the US are fans of flat taxes as they benefit the ‘fat cats’ at the top but even Donald Trump thinks this radical form of tax policy is too unfair. If Renua’s tax policy is too right-wing for Trump, they’re in trouble.”
Renua insisted those on welfare would be protected for three years, until the flat tax is fully rolled out.
Ms Creighton said the new tax proposals were a “game- changer” for Irish people.
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