Making sense of Budget 2023

Outstanding issues

Sir, – Budget 2023 delivered spending increases and tax cuts in the ratio of about 10 to one. But even this had those on the left reaching for the smelling salts.

The main complaint appears to be that those who pay more tax will benefit more when income taxes are reduced. That is indeed the case. They also pay more when taxes are increased which is more usually the case.

There are two stand-out features of the Irish income tax system.

The first is that about 40 per cent of Irish income earners do not pay income tax. This contrasts with most international income tax regimes, where all or nearly all income earners make some contribution to the provision of public services. The only way to benefit from very occasional tax reductions is to be a taxpayer in the first place.


The second feature is that Irish taxpayers hit the punitive higher rate at much lower income levels than in other countries. That rare bird, a US socialist, scared the American right in 2016 with his proposal for a 52 per cent marginal income tax rate on annual income in excess of $10 million. Ireland, which is not, of course, a socialist state, was at the time applying that marginal income tax rate to single people earning less than €50,000 per annum.

Occasionally I wonder whether there is any limit to Sinn Féin’s appetite for expenditure and for tax revenues. It’s predictable cut-and-paste reaction to Budget 2023 gives us a clear answer. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6 .

Sir, – Sinn Féin’s Budget 2023 submission outlines taxation plans that would make Ireland so uncompetitive for higher-earning employees of multinational companies that it would make zero sense for higher-earning employees to stay here if they have a choice to relocate elsewhere, literally anywhere else.

We cannot expect that enterprise-oriented multinationals and their high-earning employees will be willing to operate in a fully socialist country where the primary objective of economic policy is to make the few pay for the many to an even greater extent than they already do. The Department of Finance has confirmed that the most significant significant risk in our taxation system is the overdependence on a small base of higher-paid employees and multinational companies. Sinn Féin, in its 2023 Budget submission, reiterate that it intends to compound this risk, bringing the departure from Ireland of high tax yield employees and multinational companies closer to reality. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 15.

A chara, – Certainty has been the favourite word of Sinn Féin politicians for quite a while now. We heard it repeatedly calling for it during the Covid pandemic, when the only certainty about it was its very uncertainty.

We have it again now in relation to the budget and rising energy prices.

Pearse Doherty tells us that if he was minister he would bring certainty to energy costs.

That indeed would be some achievement, because if he was able to do so, he clearly would be in a position to know the eventual outcome of the Ukrainian war. Isn’t it wonderful to have a prophet in our midst! – Yours, etc,


Inse Geimhleach,

Co Chorcaí.

Sir, – One size does not fit all. Hotels in the Dublin region are well able to absorb an increase from 9 per cent VAT, being oversubscribed by both business and tourism (Business, September 30th).

Hard-to-reach rural hotels depending on tourist footfall only are not as well able to absorb an increase in VAT. The IDA had special economic zones to encourage foreign direct investment outside Dublin and rural hotels should have these to encourage tourism outside Dublin. – Yours, etc,



Sir, – There’s real and desperate hardship in homes and businesses with people trying to cope, with the astronomical increases in electricity charges and the associated costs of heating homes and operating businesses. And while all citizens will gratefully pocket the €600 as outlined in the budget, is it not absurd that all citizens can claim? Increasing costs can be more easily absorbed by some of our more prosperous members of society.

There is a similar lack of political leadership in the approach to paying children’s allowance, childcare payments, etc, to people whose disposable incomes are multiples of most people’s.

A simple solution to more effectively targeting support payments to those who most need them would be through Revenue, where they could be recouped if income after tax was above an agreed threshold, rather than through a more cumbersome means test.

Currently there is no mechanism for an entitled citizen to forgo a State payment other than making a donation to a chosen charity. And is my parents’ idea of independence, solidarity and the belief that one only sought and accepted State supports when in need of them now to be regarded as quaint and naive? – Yours, etc,



Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

Sir, – Ireland has become a land of exits over the last while due to both inertia in Government policies and the populism of the Opposition. All foreign banks have exited, recently two major players in wind energy have exited at a time of energy crises, landlords are exiting (and not just because of the oversimplistic reason of positive equity) at a time of a housing crisis, and reportedly young people are leaving due to myriad reasons. Let’s hope the Government can start to correct the reasons for some of these exits, starting with this Budget, and that the Opposition can highlight credible alternative policies, as appropriate, that don’t have unintended consequences. – Yours, etc,


Tuam, Co Galway.