Responding to the publication of the Finance Bill 2012, the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the Bill “protects the wealthy and punishes low and middle income families”.
Deputy Doherty also criticised the Fine Gael/Labour Government for “protecting the rich and powerful in the same way as Fianna Fáil did in the last government.”
Deputy Doherty said the Bill will further depress the economy and impose hardship, unemployment and emigration on citizens.
“Fine Gael and Labour are repeating the mistakes of Fianna Fáil. They are introducing a Finance Bill that will heap more taxes on low and middle income families while at the same time giving a tax break amounting to millions of Euros to high earners. They are doing so without any guarantee that this new tax break will result in a single job being created.
“The Finance Bill enacts in law the series of indirect tax hikes introduced by the Government in the last budget. VAT is increased, excise duties are increased and deposit interest retention tax is increased. These are all measures which hit the least well off disproportionately; which hit disposable income and consumer sentiment; and which hammer already struggling businesses. They are measures which leave us in the least likely position to emerge from economic crisis.
“There is some good news within this vastly technical bill - but it is good news for the wealthy. The Special Assignee Relief Programme announced in the Budget is set out here. It allows companies to bring in highly paid individuals from outside the state and have their tax liability on earnings between €75,000 and €500,000 written off by 30%. This is the equivalent of approximately €130,000 tax free for the high end of this bracket.
“Over the five years of the period this benefit is allowed, that individual will earn up to €650,000 tax free. It is not spelt out, nor is it believable, how one high earning individual could come to this state and create more jobs purely because of a larger tax free incentive for themselves. The Government is aware that we currently have 14% unemployment in this state and its answer is to offer tax incentives to high earners in other states to come work here. You couldn't make it up.
“In this Bill we also see the various incarnations demanded by the property investment lobbies - a reduction in stamp duty for commercial property transactions and exemptions from stamp duty for property transfers between offshore investors. What we don't see, because the Minister told us on Budget day in another embarrassing U-turn that he wouldn't be introducing it, is a review of upward only rents. These rent agreements are putting viable businesses out of operation right now. These businesses create jobs, landlords do not.
“There is a lot of detail in this Bill which my party will want to examine further, but what is abundantly clear is that this Government is repeating the mistakes of the last. This Bill protects the wealthy and punishes low and middle income families who are being bled dry in order to pay off an ever-growing banking debt.”