Sinn Féin says Government treating lower-income workers as an ‘afterthought’

Budget 2023: Doherty calls €500 tax credit for renters a ‘poor and pale imitation’ of SF’s own plan

Pearse Doherty in Dail speaking after the Budget 2023 speeches

Sinn Féin has accused the Government of treating lower-income workers as an “afterthought” and of leaving workers “out in the cold”.

The party’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said most workers would receive only €190 extra a year under the Government’s income tax band change, while those earning more than €100,000 would stand to benefit €830.

Mr Doherty also hit out at the Government’s plan to introduce a €500 tax credit for renters, describing it as a “poor and pale imitation” of their own plan.

Sinn Féin have previously called for a €1,500 tax credit for renters in tandem and they have also called for a ban on rent increases.


Defending the Government measure, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said it will amount to €1,000 for both 2022 and 2023 and it should be seen “in the context of all of the other changes that we are making”.

He cited additional measures such as increased financial support for childcare and tax cuts for middle-income earners and said taxpayers will evaluate the budget by the “impact it makes in their wallet”.

“If I hadn’t brought forward any such measures, Sinn Féin would be condemning me for doing it,” he added.

Mr Doherty said the tax credit was “less than the rent increases every year” and will just go into landlords’ pockets, saying that any such measure would need to be tied to a ban on rent increases to be effective.

In relation to the Government’s tax package, Mr Doherty said Sinn Féin would have delivered a different tax package which would involve steep reductions in the USC for the two lowest bands.

In their alternative budget, Sinn Féin proposed to raise €2 billion in new taxes, mainly directed at wealthier individuals. It included a solidarity tax of 3 per cent on those earning more than €140,000.

Mr Donohoe announced on Tuesday that the 20 per cent income tax rate would be extended to cover income up to €40,000 for a single person, up by €3,200 from €36,800 this year.

Separately, Mr Doherty said champagne corks would be popping among institutional investors because Budget 2023 was “silent on the scandal” of their role in outbidding struggling homebuyers for homes.

He derided the Government’s housing measures and said the State was continuing to roll out “the red carpet” for such funds, which had bought entire housing estates for the rental market.

In his speech to the Dáil following the budget announcements, Mr Doherty said institutional funds paid no tax on their rental income and no capital gain tax on asset disposal because “this Government is firmly wedded to a policy that allows them to push up house prices on ordinary families and outbid them for desperately needed homes”.

He welcomed the “long overdue” vacant property tax, but “it will only deliver and penalise vacancy and put property back into use if it is punitive”.

Sinn Féin also again called for a cap on energy charges at pre-crisis levels.

Last week, Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan rejected such a measure.

“The first problem is that it would actually benefit the better-off, who tend to use more energy, who tend to have the bigger houses and who tend to have the biggest bills.

“Secondly, as in the Tory party approach, it would benefit the energy industry,” Mr Ryan said.

Meanwhile, Mr Doherty said the cuts in third-level fees would be welcomed by many students and families, but instead of being a “stepping stone” to abolishing fees, he said they would be raised again next year.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times