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SARP tax relief ‘a slap in the face to taxpayers’ – Gavan

22 August, 2017 - by Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has sharply criticised the Government’s Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) after new figures revealed the cost of the scheme had nearly doubled to €9.5 million in 2015. 

The scheme enables companies to avail of generous tax breaks for employees, in effect paying a maximum of just 30% on incomes above €75,000. The original scheme was capped at an upper limit of €500,000 but this cap was lifted from 2015.

The latest information, released under a Freedom of Information request revealed that 591 individuals availed of the scheme in 2015, up from 302 in the previous year. 92 such individuals each earned over €375,000 in that year.

In response Senator Gavan said:

“In the eyes of this government and their friends in big business taxes are for poor people. While working families are put to the pin of their collar to makes ends meet, an elite section of our so called captains of industry are able to rake in millions in income at rates of tax far below that of ordinary families. Under this scheme, they can even have private school fees and expenses for trips paid for by the taxpayer.

“Revenue has responded by saying that employers, those who benefit from the scheme along with their high income employees, are supportive of the scheme and that 586 jobs have been created as a result of this tax break. I would like revenue to illustrate what the validation process of these 586 jobs is or is Revenue simply taking their word for it?

“The SARP scheme is a slap in the face to ordinary taxpayers. It allows some of the richest people in the state to pay far less in taxes than they should; at the very same time our government embarks on a major campaign of harassment of people on social welfare.

“These are policy decisions based on the Thatcherite premise that rich people need to be incentivised by tax breaks while poor people need to be labelled as cheats and spongers. The real spongers are the elite who avail of this disgraceful tax subsidy. I am calling on the Government to scrap this unfair scheme and uphold the principles of progressive taxation.” 

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