Sinn Féin proposes increased income tax for higher earners
Party manifesto commits to retaining USC but abolishing water charges, property tax
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, and Cllr Rose Conway Walsh, at launch of Sinn Féin’s election manifesto in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times
Sinn Féin will create a higher rate of income tax for those earning more than €100,000 and remove anyone earning less than €19,500 from the Universal Social Charge (USC) net if is elected to government.
The party unveiled its general election manifesto on Tuesday and reaffirmed its previous commitments to abolish property tax and water charges.
It says it will keep the USC but will exempt 277,000 people from the levy by raising the threshold to €19,572.
Similar to the position of other parties, Sinn Féin also says it will move towards equal treatment of the self-employed in the tax system.
It will raise taxes by increasing Capital Acquisitions Tax and Capital Gains Tax for “passive investments that don’t help the real economy”.
Income over €100,000 will be subject to an additional 7 per cent of tax, private pension tax reliefs will be reduced, a new 15.75 per cent rate of employers’ PRSI will be levied on the portion of salary above €100,000 and a sugar tax and betting tax will also be introduced.
A new “wealth tax” will also be examined, but was not included in the manifesto because it has not been fully costed.
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty, the party’s finance spokesman, said Sinn Féin is working off Department of Finance figures to calculate the amount of money that may be available to the next government, the so-called “fiscal space”.
When asked what Sinn Féin would do if economic growth did not continue in line with Department of Finance forecasts, Mr Doherty said the manifesto did not take account of the €1.2 to €1.5 billion that is expected to become available due to the loosening of EU budgetary rules.
Mr Doherty said the party will leave aside €1.2 billion in unallocated funding for capital or current expenditure that could be used as a buffer against economic shocks.
Sinn Féin says it will have another €1.7 billion to spend because it will raise some taxes and believes another €366 million will be available from “savings in public spending”.
Of the €10.68 billion it believes it will have to spend, €3.3 billon will be set aside for health; €2.3 billion for housing; €1.9 billion for education; €912 million for social welfare; €858 million for childcare; €420 million for justice; €900 million for water infrastructure and €1.6 billion for transport.
The €1.2 billion in unallocated money will be earmarked for areas such as acute hospitals, public sector pay and social protection.
Sinn Féin says its investment in infrastructure and public services will create 250,000 jobs over the next five years, 20,000 of which will be in the public sector.
This includes the recruitment of an additional 3,000 gardaí. Closed Garda stations will be reopened.
The party also reaffirmed its commitment to repealing the Offences Against the State Acts, including the abolition of the Special Criminal Court.
In health, the manifesto commits Sinn Féin to recruiting 6,600 “additional frontline health workers, including consultants, nurses, midwives, dentists and allied health professionals”.
The number of hospital beds will be increased by 1,000, with 3,800 additional nursing home beds.
Other manifesto commitments include: ending direct provision; holding a referendum to enshrine neutrality in the Constitution; stopping the involvement of Irish troops in EU battlegroup; returning powers from the EU to member states and national parliaments, and reforms of the EU to reduce the power of the European Commission.
The party will also cut the salary of the taoiseach, ministers and TDs and introduce a partial list system, combined with seven seat constituencies, for Dáil elections.