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Snippet Contents:

It is hard to believe that only three weeks ago on the eve of the budget the newspapers were full of concern that there might be a giveaway budget that could jeopardise the national recovery or that not enough would be given away. In the event, every single taxpayer and welfare recipient will be better off as a result of this budget, albeit by a modest amount. It is not the amount that is significant. It is the fact that, after so many difficult years, we at last have a budget that does not take more from us than it gives. The budget’s thrust was very much focused on increasing employment and securing the recovery, ensuring that progress we have made painfully over the past four years is sustained in the future. While paying ourselves more in pay and benefits may be a short-term stimulus to the economy, if it is done at the cost of more borrowing, then it can only undo what has been achieved and will send us into an ever downward spiral.
The measures announced on budget day and included in the Finance Bill are both prudent and proportionate. Changes in tax and the universal social charge, USC, taken together ensure every worker’s pay packet increases. This is true of both PAYE workers and the self-employed. There is considerable upset, however, among the self-employed about the onerous 11% USC rate. It was introduced and increased to ensure there was no disproportionate benefit to the self-employed with incomes over €100,000 compared to those on PAYE and has its roots in the changes to the PAYE ceiling back in 2011. Notwithstanding the logic of it, the optics are not good. It appears to the self-employed that they are being punished relative to the PAYE worker on a similar income. The assumption the self-employed had a tax advantage prevails and may have been true in the past. The rules, however, changed and Revenue has become far more efficient in collecting from the self-employed. The rule has changed also in that they are paying tax in advance rather than after the event.
Over the years of the recession, we lost an awful lot of our entrepreneurs; some of them were wiped out forever. We need now to grow and nurture a whole new generation of employers, however small the size of their business. Without them, there will be no new jobs. No matter how logical or justified this higher rate of USC is, it creates the perception that the self-employed are being penalised in some way and not valued.