‘I’ll never pay taxes in Ireland again’
The 55% rate for self-employed contractors with few benefits has led many of my engineering friends to emigrate, and knowing it is all going to pay for the banks’ mistakes means I won’t be back, writes Jack Barry
There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks, in Ireland and abroad, regarding the “Anglo Tapes” which have become infamous around Europe. Currently I am gainfully employed in Germany, and I’ve seen the mounting animosity towards Ireland recently first-hand in my new country of residence.
People who are aware I’m Irish have been questioning “how much did I know was going on?” It’s becoming increasingly difficult to put the palms out and admit I was aware were being carried out in a haphazard way. All it does is engender to my fellow Europeans how much of a bunch of blackguards the Irish truly are.
I moved here to work as an engineer 12 months ago, building on my secondary school German to make a new start in a country which for all intents and purposes “didn’t drop the ball”.
I had worked in Ireland as a freelancer for the last eight years after building up my experience as a staff employee at various consultancies for the previous five. I paid all my taxes as a self-employed contractor, and never engaged in any misappropriation of funds, but in the last two years the Revenue has decided to pursue contractors, whom they perhaps view as the last remaining revenants of the Celtic Tiger.
The only expenses I ever claimed were for mileage to and from the consultancy that employed me, and the pharmaceutical company that had engaged the Irish consultancy. But the Revenue has decided to back-tax contractors and not accept mileage claims, as we are not seen as the equivalent of civil servants who can claim the same amounts. Numerous colleagues of mine have had to sell houses and cars to pay for these back-taxes and penalties.
Most blood-boiling of all is the situation a friend of mine was in who simply couldn’t pay the back-tax of €90,000, as he had bought a three-bed semi in the boom and now had a family to support. He was carted off to an Irish bank that had an “agreement” with the Revenue to issue him a loan at an exorbitant interest rate.
My mother had a saying, “You can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once”. Many of my contractor friends have set sail for more reasonable climes, families towed along. The contractor base in Ireland has now dried up to the point where I receive on average four emails a day from recruiters offering work in Ireland with these US pharmaceutical companies who are screaming out for experienced engineers. However, looking at Irelands 55 per cent tax rate on the self-employed, no benefits despite the high levels of tax paid, and the feeling of being burned once being enough, there is no force on God’s Green Earth that would make me pay taxes in Ireland again.
The consequence of this is that although the Revenue may shore up its losses this year with whatever it can glean from Ireland’s remaining resource pool, it has signed its own economic death warrant. The educated middle classes carried Ireland through the last few years of turmoil, but they are finally washing their hands of it. The US multinationals, which have been the only source of non-EU funding in Ireland, will relocate in a heartbeat once they realise the resource base simply isn’t there anymore. The independent contractor was the lifejacket of the ship called Éire, and now we are floating away on a warmer current to more well-managed economies.