‘Progressive’ taxation


Sir, – The word “progressive” looks unmistakably positive, not least because it contains as its root “progress” – which is a good thing, by definition.

In the context of taxation, though, it simply means that the rate applied increases in tandem with the sum being taxed.

Thus the most extreme arrangement isn’t necessarily the optimal one.

Being exceptionally progressive in this sense can act as a disincentive to higher earners to do more work than necessary, for instance.

One might wonder at how hard it can be to engage the services of some professionals out of hours, at general practitioners’ reluctance to work weekends or at various high-earners choosing to work half-time and even take unpaid leave during school holidays.

Due to the nature of our tax system, such choices have very little effect on the real earnings of individuals, but will significantly increase free time.

They also worsen waiting lists, medical and, presumably, otherwise.

Perhaps it’s worth bearing in mind that intractable diseases can also be described as “progressive”. – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.