Renua fundamentally believes that real tax reform — as distinct to Del Boy-style economic promises — is required to drive Ireland’s recovery forward, writes Lucinda Creighton
ONE of the few intriguing questions of the current election campaign is “who dares to speak of fundamental tax reform?”
Sadly, when it comes to the conventional political parties the answer appears to be just about everyone.
There is a great deal of talk about tax in the run-up to the election. But absolutely none of it is of the reforming variant.
Sinn Féin wants to impose so many extra taxes, particularly on entrepreneurs, the only extra tax they do not appear to be advocates of is a window tax.
The Social Democrats appear to have embraced the Syriza school of economics with their suggestion that we can achieve Nordic-style social services with Boston-style tax rates.
That appears at least to be the logical consequence of proposals such as the abolition of water charges.
That is, as a very different Jobs Minister Richard Bruton pointed out when criticising the economic strategy of the then Bertie Ahern coalition, the economics of the hog cycle where governments fuel growth to dangerous and unsustainable levels with further tax cuts.
Sadly, the economic policy being followed by the current coalition is as bad.
Fianna Fáil’s short-sighted “I’ll spend it when I have it” economics may have set the Irish Tiger up for its terribly big fall.
The current crew, however, is spending money they don’t even have to secure their position on the political lifeboat.
As for Fianna Fáil, meanwhile, they are so intent on being innocuous they have almost become irrelevant.
Renua Ireland, of course, wants to cut taxes too. Our policy is informed by something more substantial than a pre-election point off the top rate and promises of more to come.
We, in fact, want to halve the marginal tax rate that workers pay with a 23% flat tax.
Our tax strategy, though, is informed by a long-term plan and a political philosophy about the role of tax in society. Everyone acknowledges that the decision, despite all the protest and disbelief at the time, to introduce a lower rate of corporation tax and the strategic U-turn of Sean Lemass, to replace protectionism with an open trade regime, was an economic game-changer.
The differences between Ireland today and the Ireland Sean Lemass inherited are surprisingly slight. The Ireland of today is after a dark decade of 1950s-style austerity a country on the cusp.
Taking the right economic decisions now as then could put us ahead of the European pack. We believe introducing a flat tax could play that role.
Our current taxation system is not working. With its 17 different rates of PRSI and USC and tax it is an economic depressant.
It discourages people on the minimum and average wage from working harder to create new opportunities for themselves and their families. It also discourages employers from creating jobs.
On Monday Renua Ireland announced its plan for Ireland.
We believe that after the last decade of austerity we are now entering into an age of nation building in areas such as childcare, housing, health, and education.
We also fundamentally believe that real tax reform as distinct to Del Boy-style economic promises are required to drive that process.
Ireland may well be nothing without its people but its people will not stay in an economic dead-zone.
Though no one will ever lose in the popularity stakes by offering to cut tax our flat tax plan is actually centred on the socially beneficial objectives of job creation and opportunity for all.
It is easy politics to, like the rest of the political herd, simply promise to cut tax rates or abolish the USC.
Today we clearly state that Ireland must adopt the most radical change in fiscal policy since corporation tax.
I want to dismantle our current failed and failing tax model and aggressively reform the tax system.
Our manifesto is informed by the realisation that access to childcare and housing are the key civil rights issues facing working people of our generation.
That can only be resolved by taking radical action to create a radical new culture of respect, support, equality, and opportunity for entrepreneurs, high-street shop owners, and SMEs.
We are often a strange country. Nowhere is this more evident than in the strange unease, particularly on the political left, which has accompanied our proposals to cut tax for working people.
Such plans are treated by the new high priests of Irish society in a remarkably similar manner to “impure thoughts” in the 1950s. Our new high priests in the unions and in Labour do not advise people to take cold showers. But the response is generally not too far removed from that.
Of course, this is the Irish left and their relationship to the needs of working people has never been a close one.
Some believe that election campaigns are about making and swiftly forgetting promises. We believe they are the building blocks of nation building.
In our case we in Renua Ireland believe one of those pillars is the fundamental reform of our taxation system.
Others might be too nervous to take such a direction. Renua Ireland, though, in opposition and in government if we are fortunate, will never be afraid to speak of the virtues of real tax reform.
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