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LET THEM EAT CAKE

Revenue has warned the government that tax exiles would renounce Irish citizenship by handing back their passports rather than pay the €200,000 levy on the super-rich unveiled in last December’s budget.

Correspondence between the Revenue and the Department of Finance released to The Sunday Times under the Freedom of Information Act also shows the government was advised to drop its plan to include the ownership of shares in Irish plcs when calculating the wealth of individuals because of a “danger” of companies delisting to allow its shareholders to avoid the charge. The Department of Finance subsequently agreed to this recommendation.

The levy targets tax exiles with €5m or more of assets in Ireland and income of at least €1m a year worldwide. The first payment is due by October 31. However, it has been criticised because of the apparent ease of avoidance, for example through property transfers to spouses to lower an individual’s net worth.

Meanwhile, over in the Sunday Business Post, Vincent Browne’s column concentrates on the growing demands by the super-rich elsewhere for more taxes to be levied on them. Uber-investor Warren Buffett and mega-rich Frenchwoman Liliane Bettencourt are just two of the people quoted recently as saying they should be paying more.

Bettencourt was one of 15 billionaires who penned an open letter to French premier Nicolas Sarkozy recently asking him to increase their taxes rather than cut public services. Buffett recently said the US government had “coddled” billionaires and people like him should be paying more tax.

Browne notes this is in stark comparison to the situation in Ireland, where tax increases appear to be off the table in favour of more cuts to public spending.

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