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Carthy addresses European Conference on Wealth Taxation

22 April, 2015 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Chairing a forum on wealth tax in the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy said that the discussion of the wealth tax is fundamentally a discussion of the type of society we want to achieve.

Carthy was speaking as part of a day long conference organised by the GUE/NGL group that examined tax evasion and avoidance as well as progressive alternatives for fair taxation. The Conference was attended by Sinn Féin TD Péadar Tóibín and it was addressed by Dr Tom McDonnell of the Nevin Economic Research Institute and members of the EH Bildu –led Government of the Basque region who have been operating a wealth tax since 2013.

Opening the Forum, Carthy said:

“While the detail of taxation can seem incomprehensible to many, what we’re really talking about here is the type of society we want to live in.

“Sinn Féin has consistently argued for the introduction of a wealth tax in Ireland, which can generate revenue in a way that’s targeted and fair.”

During his presentation, Dr McDonnell said:

“The fiscal contraction we’ve seen in Ireland since 2008 has been massive and primary public spending has now fallen to unprecedented low levels.

“In Ireland today, households in the 10th percentile own €1,200 in net wealth, while households in the 90th percentile own €506,000 in net wealth. That means the 90th percentile controls 422 times the wealth of the 10th percentile, and that is not even taking into account the super-wealthy at the at the very top.

“We’ve seen the attempts by successive governments to broaden the tax base in response to the crisis, through the regressive Universal Social Charge, the property tax and water charges. Wealth inequality grows over time in the absence of progressive taxation. A tax of net wealth would raise revenue for the exchequer and would target those with the broadest shoulders.”

In his concluding remarks, Carthy said:

“It appears from the general discussions today that a tax on wealth can be both a practical and progressive means of taxation and a useful tool in establishing a fair society.

“All the evidence in Ireland shows that austerity politics and conservative economics have increased the gap between rich and poor significantly.

I am particularly pleased to hear the proposal from Dr McDonnell of a tax on net wealth of households with a threshold of €1 million and his assertion that a well designed tax on net wealth would overcome any potential obstacles. This echoes what Sinn Féin has been calling for over the past number of years."

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