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TO TAX OR NOT TO TAX

It’s a historical truism that disgruntled middle classes rather than militant working classes are the primary drivers of revolution. If that’s the case, the Sunday Independent looks to be issuing a rallying call to the barricades.

It would appear ‘Middle Ireland’ has had enough and even this week’s promises by Enda Kenny of no more income tax increases in this year’s budget are failing to assuage the anger and disbelief. And at least one Fine Gael minister (albeit a junior one) appears to agree. Step forward Michael Ring, who provides the Sindo with a lightning rod to affirm the frustrations of its readership with the likely imposition of more stealth taxes and charges.

“There has to be fairness for those who pay. There comes a point where you can load all the taxes you want on to people – but for many they are now at a point where they can’t pay, as distinct to won’t pay,” Ring said.

The newspaper has cast the minister, who shares a Co Mayo constituency with the taoiseach, as a man “who tells it like it is”.

“The views of Mr Ring will strike a chord with middle Ireland, which is bracing itself for the imposition in the Budget of a household-utility charge and a fee for the use of water. These are expected to be followed next year by a property tax,” the article states.

“In a week when the people of Greece rioted and the Government continued to struggle to achieve a meaningful concession from Europe, Mr Ring, a Fine Gael TD, has decided to sound the alarm.

“While he says he will continue to stand ‘four-square’ behind the Government, Mr Ring told the Sunday Independent that the slew of proposed stealth taxes and charges – principally on property and water – would be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back”.

Separately, an editorial in The Sunday Business Post pours cold water on Government promises made earlier in the week not to increase income tax in the budget.

“Despite all the talk in the Programme for Government, the revised programme explicitly states that income tax will increase next year and the year after, as tax bands and credits will be cut. This is the sneaky way to increase income tax, of course, as it avoids an increase in the headline rates.

“The bottom line for governments looking to raise money quickly has, in the past, always included higher income tax. It is a straightforward way of raising big chunks of cash. Can this government really avoid it?”

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