Renua Ireland wants new flat tax on all income

Declan Ganley urges party not to shy away from big ideas at first think-in in Dublin

 Lucinda Creighton and Declan Ganley at a Renua Ireland think-in in Wood Quay, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Lucinda Creighton and Declan Ganley at a Renua Ireland think-in in Wood Quay, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


Renua Ireland is working on a radical new policy that would see the introduction of a flat tax on all income, with bands and most allowances being scrapped.

The disclosure was made during the party’s first think-in in Dublin, during a session on the economy.

Businessman Declan Ganley, who was a guest speaker, told delegates that a flat tax regime was a “great disrupter” and would create a huge buzz that would attract international business and finance to Ireland.

“It’s going to be controversial. You can welcome the debate. It’s going to create a long-term sustainable economy,” he said.

A flat rate is a system of taxation where one tax rate is applied from the smallest incomes, including social welfare, to the largest.

There are variations on the idea, including the concept of a negative income tax, put forward by Milton Friedman in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom.

A negative income tax would allow personal deductions, or a threshold, before the flat tax was applied.

If the person’s income did not reach that threshold, they would be paid a negative tax calculated on the amount of the shortfall. This would replace some welfare payments.

Renua chairman Eddie Hobbs disclosed that Mr Ganley’s idea had already been taken up by the party and work on a policy was at an advanced stage.

It is thought that Renua does not favour a true flat tax, but one that would include deductions and balancing measures to protect vulnerable families and individuals.

Mr Ganley urged the party not to shy away from big ideas.

“Do the stuff that vested interests will resist and they will hit you hard, but you can take them head on,” he said.

Mr Ganley also attacked what he described as crony corporatism in Ireland.

He said there was a perception that there was a very small circle of individuals who have unique access to the halls of power and have the ability to capture part of this economy and make it available for self-enrichment.

In a thinly-veiled reference to businessman Denis O’Brien, he told the meeting there should be no room for those who ignore the findings of a tribunal, or allow Dáil Éireann to be browbeaten because it does not suit their political or business agenda.

‘Honest about tax’

Lucinda Creighton told the think-in that people needed to be honest about tax.

“If you’re in favour of tax reductions, you are a bad, evil right-winger,” she said. “If you want to increase tax you are a caring, kind-hearted, loving person.”

She pointed to the 1,200 per cent increase that occurred in the capital gains tax take in the five years after 1997, when the rate was reduced from 40 per cent to 20 per cent.

Ms Creighton also said she will ask Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan to assess whether an investigation is needed into the destruction of documents by former commissioner Martin Callinan.

The interim report of the Fennelly Commission, which investigated Mr Callinan’s resignation, found that the former commissioner had documents destroyed as he left his post.

The commission also found that a SIM card belonging to Mr Callinan could not be recovered.

Ms Creighton said she will be making contact with Ms O’Sullivan on the issue.

She also said Renua will cut the number of people working in Irish Water as part of an overhaul of the utility company if the party is in government after the next election.

She said that her party will restructure and overhaul Irish Water - which she described as “an absolute disaster” - while keeping water charges in place.