Iffy On The Liffey

By Global Tax Weekly

So far as our news service is aware, no country is planning to reduce taxes this week, but at least in Ireland they are talking about doing so. The Deputy Prime Minister said as much; and a few days earlier the Finance Minister had said the same. They need to, heaven knows, and they have the right ideas, but I have to wonder where they are going to find the dosh. The budget deficit was 7.5 percent in 2013, and will be 4.8 percent in 2014, according to Government estimates, although external commentators think that is optimistic. Ireland’s debt was 25 percent of GDP in 2008, before it started on the suicidal “rescue” of its banks; now the debt stands at 125 percent of GDP, and may rise further. It’s hard to make out whether the Government is actually cutting costs: expenditure has gone down, but that is mostly due to the end of the bank bail-out program. Since there are no public-sector strikes, in my book that means there are no savings. With the end of the EU’s formal stability package for Ireland, it has been able to return to the bond markets quite successfully; presumably that is at least partly due to the ECB’s euro-zone blank cheque. But reducing taxes? I don’t see it. If they’re saying it, there must be an election around the corner, but one is not due until the spring of 2016 – perhaps this talk means that junior coalition partner the Labour Party is about to jump ship and force an early dissolution?

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