I write this more for the sake of posterity as I feel it will fall on deaf years, but maybe one day you will think on this and see how misrepresented we are as a people, and sadly how incapable we are to see through the actions of those in power.
My memory of USC was that it was introduced to foot the deficit caused by the Banking Crisis and by its very nature was the most unpopular taxation measure in my lifetime. Brian Cowen even expressed that he believes the introduction of USC was the reason Fianna Fail lost 51 seats in the 2011 election:
“I actually believe the USC cleaned us: the USC cleaned us in Dublin. I think the USC cost us between 10 and 15 seats,” Brian Cowen
The FG/FF government now plan to merge USC with PRSI. They tell us that this is a good thing because we will have access to more benefits for the same value of tax we already pay.
Of course this will be the greatest swindle of 2018, although you may benefit slightly, and bear in mind it will be ever so slightly, the real cost will be that you continue to pay while others get a break. Collectively we will all continue to pay, the crime in that is that we will not all continue to pay equally.
Currently people who earn more than €70,444 a year are set to pay USC @ 8% and PRSI which is capped @ 4%. This means they pay a flat tax of 12% on gross earnings. After the merge high earners will be paying as little as 4% if the cap remains the same. The merge with PRSI will mean higher income earners will have vastly more spending power, potentially benefiting from a tax break of 8%. It is high earners who will benefit most. Meanwhile that lost tax will be made up collectively by the ordinary Joe and collectively we end up with less, and like every short term memory in Irish politics the mistake of eliminating USC will be forgotten about in one or two terms time.
This is simply far removed from the burden sharing election promises Fine Gael made to us in 2011. I would go so far as to say that it is theft from the working class, who will end up paying more of Ireland's debt in the long run and have fewer benefits as a result of lost revenue following the proposed merge.
"The USC is a far bigger issue than water charges. People working hard for a living are feeling victimised by our tax system" Fine Gael TD John Deasy
The left is often cited as calling for an introduction of so called wealth taxes, but what’s hidden in the cracks is how the neoliberals constantly erode our ability to sustain equitable taxes on the wealthy. It’s not a burden on someone who has more to pay more. Equality is the only reasonable way to support a democracy. USC doesn’t need to be merged with PRSI at this stage, what we need is a USC that doesn’t penalise low income workers, but one that remains in place for the top earners in society.
Of course the tax system is inevitably corrupt because USC impacts on the wages of politicians and their contributors, a TD’s basic salary being €89,965 a year. Which means politicians will benefit from this merge, so we’re being sold something which hurts us in the long run by the people it benefits most.
We, the public, are at a disposition to understand how much of an opportunity USC presents in working towards an equitable tax system. We don’t need to introduce a wealth tax, we just need to keep Lenihan’s Legacy in place and use it to our advantage, while making it fairer for those who earn less.
The politicians are acting out of self interest when they suggest a merge, and this my friend is nothing but a con, plain and simple.
(Picture by Geraldine O’Neill)