Date Released: 16 September 2014
SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called for the introduction of a “Water Tax Credit” in the October budget and has said that under no circumstance should tax reductions be funded by cuts to public expenditure.
Writing in the SIPTU monthly newspaper, Liberty, which is published today (Tuesday 16th September), he said that a refundable water tax credit would “offset the total cost of every person’s household and domestic needs at a cost to the exchequer of less than €350 million per annum.”
O’Connor said: “It would respect the principle of an adequate supply of water to meet normal needs universally available free at the point of use. It would preserve the incentive for water conservation because it would not extend to subsidising non-essential activities such as filling swimming pools, watering gardens, washing cars or just plain waste.”
“There is no such thing as a free supply of water. The debate is only about which way it is paid for. The trade union movement has always subscribed to the principle of universal provision of essential public goods free at the point of use and funded by general taxation.”
O’Connor also described calls for reducing the 41% tax rate as “a blatant call for tax cuts for the rich which would be subsidised by the great majority (86%) of income earners who would get nothing”.
He said that calls for the expansion of the standard rate band was “not quite so perverse” but would still mean that only 14% of tax payers would benefit again at the expense of the 86% who would get nothing.
He says that “cutting the Universal Social Charge would be fairer” as every earner would benefit.
However, he said the concept of the “Water Tax Credit” would be the most equitable way to provide for low earners and those dependant on social welfare.
Jack O’Connor said that “under no circumstance should tax reductions be funded by further cuts to public expenditure.”
“Indeed, there is an unanswerable case for increasing spending in key areas especially the health service which is now undergoing an unprecedented funding crisis. Our public health, education and social services are key to the quality of life and the standard of living of the vast majority of people,” he said.