Taxation and the left


Sir, – Once again a correspondent (Pat O’Brien, Letters, September 28th) criticises the left for being inconsistent in opposing the local property tax, a tax on assets.

I propose a bargain.

I will support a tax on residential property, the only wealth most ordinary people hold, when Mr O’Brien supports a similar asset tax on general and financial wealth. – Yours, etc,



(Emeritus Professor

of Economics,

NUI Galway),


Co Galway.

Sir, – Jim O’Sullivan continues his long-running campaign for the introduction of an additional tax band. He sees this as the way to pay for Covid-19 costs to the exchequer.

He should be careful what he wishes for.

Bringing the Irish income tax system into line with those in European countries so favoured by the left would indeed see the introduction of an additional tax band.

But it would be a 10 per cent or 15 per cent band applying to lower-income levels rather than the additional higher-income band which Mr O’Sullivan has in mind.

I agree with Mr O’Sullivan that eventually the bills will have to be paid.

Borrowing cannot go on forever especially if, as I suspect will be the case, our politicians have their usual difficulty in reversing expenditure increases once we get past this pandemic.

The alternatives are additional tax revenues, controlling our massive public expenditures, or a combination of the two.

I for one would take calls for yet more taxes more seriously if they were accompanied by even a lukewarm interest in cutting out the enormous waste in our government expenditure.

We don’t have far to look. Last week you highlighted just the most recent jaw-dropper on the part of our health management bureaucracy (“Concern voiced over HSE procurement system”, News, September 25th).

Ten years ago it was pointed out that the HSE’s failure to have a single procurement system was bleeding millions of euro from the health system.

The failure endures, with the result that half of all purchases are not compliant with normal procurement rules.

The Public Accounts Committee wrote to the HSE asking about plans to put a functioning system in place. The response was that the HSE will introduce a new system.

But it won’t be ready for another four years.

And even then, 14 years after the issue was brought to light, it will cover only 80 per cent of supplies.

Needless to say, no-one is responsible for this nonsense.

It is, as ever, an anonymous systems issue.

The indifferent, the incompetent, the underperforming and the non-performing in the administrative behemoth which is the HSE must be protected at all costs. – Yours, etc,



Co Kilkenny.

Sir, – While I accept the fact that local property tax is regressive, it should also be accepted that many other taxation forms are regressive such as VAT, stamp duty, and vehicle registration tax.

However, it can be said that in broad terms the taxation of homes and additional homes is supported by left-wing and many other parties elsewhere in Europe.

When the residential property tax was in place, it was surprising how many owners of properties over the taxable valuation threshold did not reach the requisite income threshold, and many of these were self-employed or could control their own income level.

It is important to have as wide a range of diversified taxes to ensure that even in an economic downturn, where vertically progressive taxes will decline, that sufficient taxes are collected from those who own wealth in the form of household property, to fund services.

One of recommendations by the European Commission is that we should diversify our tax base as much as possible, for this reason.

I would also point out that in certain circumstances the local property tax may be deferred.

The unfortunate truth, in my opinion, is that many politicians of varying hues do not have the backbone to support unpopular taxation of any type. – Yours, etc,




Dublin 16.

Sir, – The only parties that have recently opposed a cut in the local property tax are the Labour Party, the Social Democrats and the Green Party.

Meanwhile, the pseudo-left Sinn Féin and the centre-right parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have come together to champion a reduction in the local property tax across local councils.

As for those in the hard left, they also seem confused about political ideology, as reflected in their consistent opposition to the main wealth tax we have in Ireland. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 1.