Exile On Blame Street


Yesterday the Irish Independent published a story by Fionnan Sheahan (above left) claiming the Government is considering a ‘super property tax’ for owners of large, expensive homes.

His article outlined how the coalition plan to link the tax to the value of the house.

Therefore, people with bigger houses will have a bigger property tax bill.

He appeared on Tonight With Vincent Browne on TV3 last night, alongside Richard Boyd Barrett, from United Left Alliance, Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell, formerly of DCU, and economist Jim Power.

It turned into a greater discussion about tax in general. And those that don’t pay it in particular.

Vincent Browne: “It’s hard to see how you could fix the Budget deficit solely, without taking a property tax.”

Richard Boyd Barrett: “Vincent let me just address that directly OK? One sec, Marie Louise.”

Talk over each other.

Boyd Barrett: “In an answer from the Minister for Finance on the earnings of the top 10% of income earners in this country, it showed that last year they earned €29.5billion between them. 216,000 earners. But they only paid an effective tax rate of 24%. Double that, double that tax rate and you get…”

Browne: “It doesn’t take in the Universal Social Charge. It doesn’t take in the Universal Social Charge…”

Boyd Barrett:.”And you get..but even if you add that in. We could get €3/€4billion from increasing the effective tax rate on the top 10% of earners – people who are earning in excess of €150,000.”

Browne: “Have you worked out, to get €4billion, from that cohort, have you worked out what the effective tax rate would be?”

Boyd Barrett: “I’ve just said. If you increased it, if you doubled it from the current rate of 24% to 48%. Obviously, you’d, there’d be a gradation on it where it would get higher, the higher up you were, if you’re on half a million.”

Jim Power: “Doubling it to an effective 48% tax rate?”

Boyd Barrett: “On people earning in excess of €130,000 a year. Which is what that group earn on average.”

Power: “That is absolutely penal. I mean who in their right mind would remain in this country if they paid 48% effective tax rate.”

Boyd Barrett: “We’re talking about the top 10% of earners who are earning, on average, €136,000 a year. If they pad in effective tax rate of 48%, they’d still be earning €70,000 a year, what’s the problem?”


Browne: “Jim?”

Power: “Well why would you bother staying in the country?”


Boyd Barrett: “I hate to bore people with facts here.”

Marie Louise O’Donnell: “Well you are.”

Boyd Barrett: “Well I’m sorry, these facts are important. When the Government say there’s no pot of gold at the top of our society, the top 10 earners in this country earned €6billion last year. That’s average earnings of €595,000  each per year. And they only paid an effective tax rate of 29%. Now let’s double, let’s bring it up to 50% on that group, that will raise almost €2billion. Why can’t we hit that group. They can afford it. They’d still be left with €280,000 a year. Is that…”

Talk over each other.

Boyd Barrett: “Do we honestly think that it’s moral that there are people earning €300,000 or €400,000 a year, while people are on minimum wage or average industrial wage are being slaughtered with austerity measures.”

Browne: “What do you think, Fionnan?”

Sheahen: “I think you’re friends on the left, Vincent, seem to be unique in this country.”

Browne: “I don’t have any friends on the left.”

Sheahen: “We’ll see what the tweet machine says about that. They seem to be unique…”

Browne: “I did have friends, whom I thought were on the left but I’ve discovered they’re not.”

Sheahen: “I’m told that right across Europe most people who regard themselves as left-wing or socialist and so on regard a property tax as a wealth tax. They regard it as a progressive tax. That tax is an asset, at the higher end, which wealthy people invest in. What Richard’s opposition to property tax is nothing new. We were scratching our head last December when he…”

Talk over each other.

Sheahen: “When you were opposing the household charge. And the whole point was ‘well this is unfair. The billionaires are paying the same as the poor man’. And you’re going, ‘OK, fair enough’. So, a property tax and the answer back was ‘aw no, we’re not in favour of any property tax’ whatsoever so I don’t get that. I don’t get.”

Talk over each other

Sheahen: “I’m talking about the mansion on the hill in Dalkey, Dun Laoighaire, scatter them right across your constituency, there’s plenty of them there. Why aren’t you willing to tax those people?”

Boyd Barrett: “I am willing to tax those people.”

Sheahen: “But you’re not because you’re saying they shouldn’t pay a property tax.”

Boyd Barrett: “No I’m saying ‘Tax their income. Tax their income’.”

Sheahen: “Well your figures are very interesting because in March…”

Boyd Barrett: “They’re Michael Noonan’s figures. They’re Michael Noonan’s figures.

Sheahen: “In March, it was if you applied 5% of a wealth levy on top earners, you’d raise €5 to €10billion. Tonight it’s if you applied 48% effective tax rate, you’d raise up to €10billion. Then if it was a 50% tax rate, it’d be €2billion. So I don’t know.”

Boyd Barrett: “Because I put in a question to the Minister for Finance in the last 3/4 weeks and I got the answer which are here, Fionnan, you can have a read of them and maybe put them on the front of your paper. Put them on the front of your paper. Put this on the front of your paper.”

Talk over each other

Browne: “You mean you were talking rubbish earlier on, is that what you’re saying, Richard?”

Sheahen: “So back in May. On May 3, when you launched your Fiscal Treaty referendum campaign when you said, we estimated, prior to the Budget that we can..”

Boyd Barrett: “That’s a wealth tax.”

Sheahen:..”That we could get”

Boyd Barrett: “No an income tax.”

Sheahen: “Higher income earners, earning over €100,000, €150,000, €200,000, that we could raise €1 to €2billion extra into the State coffers and that we could raise it through a 5% wealth levy on the top earners. The top most wealthiest people in the country that you could raise between €5 and €10billion. So are you saying that’s all rubbish now.”

Boyd Barrett: “No I’m not. No that’s correct aswell.”

Sheahen: “So you’re saying…”

Boyd Barrett: “Wealth and assets, wealth and assets.”

Sheahen: “Ok so, on top of your €2billion that you have here, from your 50% rate and your €10billion from…”

Boyd Barrett: “I’ll show you the figures from the minister for finance’s answers afterwards if you want to look at them.”

Browne: “Let, let…”

Sheahen: “So that’s 10 plus 2… that’s €22billion Richard has raised in the last five minutes.”

Barrett:“That’s rubbish what you just said.”

Sheahen:“Well, it is.”

Barrett:“That’s the disingenuous rubbish that we’re getting from the Independent newspaper all the time.”

Sheahen:“I was quoting you. Yeah, go on, go on, Richard. Yeah. So those figures are they accurate now aswell.”

Barrett:“Just because the Independent newspapers has a vendetta against the Campaign Against the Household Charge.”

Sheahen:“Do you want to address your figures? Where did these figures come from?

Talk over each other.”

Browne:“Fionnan, go through the figures again.”

Later, rounding on Barrett:

Browne: “The blather left is not interested in facts. Just as the blather recreational politics. And that’s what several of you people are about and that’s why I don’t have many friends on the left, I’m happy to say. ”

Later, at the very end. Browne read out of a story in the Irish Times about Labour’s Pat Rabbitte’s claiming the Technical Group is a group “theatre and fun, rather than solutions “. After reading it out,

Browne: “The Techical Group is there for “theatre and fun”. That’s fair enough, isn’t it Richard?”

Barrett:“The Technical Group is a technical group so it’s not a political group. So the issue is about the United Left Alliance.”

Browne: “Which is part of the Technical Group.”

Barrett:“The Technical Group is a technical arrangement for speaking time in the Dail. It’s not. There’s no policy unity between the techincal group despite attempts by certain sector of the media to create a political association that doesn’t exist.”

Browne: “Which is part of the Technical Group…”

Boyd Barrett: “The Technical Group is a technical arrangement for speaking time in the Dail. It’s not. There’s no policy unity between the techincal group despite attempts by certain sector of the media to create a political association that doesn’t exist.”

Sheahen: “You mean, like with Mick Wallace is it?”

Boyd Barrett: “Mick Wallace is not a member of the United Left Alliance.”

Sheahen: “Ah yeah, but I’m saying…”

Boyd Barrett: “So yet again, yet again the Independent newspapers…”

Talk over each other.

Boyd Barrett; “Yet again.”

Sheahen: “You sit alongside him, don’t ya?”

Boyd Barrett: “I don’t sit beside him.”

Sheahen: “The United Left Alliance…”

Boyd Barrett: “I don’t sit beside him, Fionnan..”

Sheahen: “Your buddies in the United Left Alliance.”

Boyd Barrett: “I don’t sit beside him. But you work for a tax refugee, who doesn’t pay his taxes in this country. That’s whose agenda you’re sharing.”

Sheahen: “I’m just saying Vincent when Mick Wallace.”

Boyd Barrett: “He’s just being disingenuous is what Fionnan is doing.”

Browne: “What’s the significance of sitting beside someone?”

Sheahen: “He was very slow to condemn Mick Wallace.”

Boyd Barrett: “I wasn’t slow at all.”

Talk over each other.

Power: “We were all waiting for the cock to crow three times.”

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