Should we let Michael O’Leary run our income tax system?

This post examines Michael O’Leary’s suggestions in relation to Ireland’s income tax system, in particular making it simpler and ensuring everyone contributes but not too much! It uses recently published Revenue Commissioners figures for income in 2008 to estimate who would like the proposal and who would hate it, Government included. It concludes with a few tweaks to the proposal, including in relation to income earned through social welfare.

Is Ireland a country for young people?

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to speak at the MacGill Summer School, which was celebrating its 30 anniversary. Throughout the week, there were various sessions, on health, education… the economy of course, and indeed political reform. One of the final sessions was based around the question “Is Ireland a country for young men and women?”. This post contains my speech.

Three labour market trends Ireland can’t ignore

Ireland’s unemployment was recently revised down from 15% to 14%. Nonetheless, there are over 200,000 people in Ireland looking for work but who can’t find it. This post scratches beneath the surface and highlights three trends – by gender, by region and by sector – that those in charge of trying to create new jobs should bear in mind as the drive to bring meaningful recovery gathers pace.

On Hogan’s Stand – or how to introduce an interim property charge fairly

The imminent introduction of water and property charges has sparked anger among most Irish people, not least because as flat charges, or poll taxes, they are unfair. This post outlines a better way of introducing an interim property charge, namely by breaking down the country into ten different bands based on land value, and then presents a map of the bands, based on 200,000 daft.ie ads in 2009 and 2010. Such an interim system would be significantly fairer and could be tailored to bring in €1.5bn when fully running.

Just say “Non” – the facts on corporate tax rates in Europe

The talk about Ireland’s corporate tax rate, mostly by France, has not waned as Ireland pushes for more favourable terms on its mountain of debt accrued protecting European banks. This post examines cross-country data on the true rates of tax paid by companies in the eurozone. While Ireland’s rate of 12% is close to its headline and the Eurozone average of 14%, France’s rate is just 8%. This – and growing evidence that higher corporate taxes hamper investment and entrepreneurship – are two very solid reasons for Ireland to insist on maintaining its sovereignty.

“Slash and burn”? Anything but! The need for realism in Budget 2012

This post takes a step back and looks at progress being made in relation to closing the Irish Exchequer deficit. Unfortunately, the focus of spending cuts so far has been on low-hanging fruit, meaning the painful adjustment is still ahead of us. Worryingly, neither the Croke Park Agreement nor recent figures by the Department of Finance show any appreciation of the scale of savings needed. The new Government needs to use Budget 2012 to stamp its authority – and some realism – on its finances.

Why don’t we just use Ireland’s $1 trillion of oil and gas? The trouble with trillions

A popular myth has emerged that Ireland is overflowing with oil and gas but is allowing foreign companies to get it for free. While Ireland probably does have about one trillion dollars worth of oil and gas off its shores, it is not as simple as just cashing it in. This post examines the facts behind Ireland’s oil and gas and outlines the three options open to the country.

The MC Hammer approach: Ireland’s new Programme for Government

This post reviews the Programme for Government agreed by Ireland’s new coalition partners, across three headings. The first is the urgent problem of Ireland’s debt burden, the second is the more medium-term issue of the deficit, while the final heading covers the long-term issues of mortgage arrears and unemployment. While there are many things to be welcomed in the new Programme for Government, on these headings at least, there is an alarming lack of coherence and detail.

Scoring the General Election manifestos on economic policy

The most important General Election in Ireland’s recent history takes place on Friday. RTE have published an overview of the five main parties’ policies across the ten most important policy areas, as chosen by their audience. Eight of these policy areas are economic. This post goes through the parties’ policies in each of the eight major economic policy areas and scores them out of five in each. While the criteria for scoring parties is unlikely to be populist, hopefully it will be of use to those voting later this week.

This is the people’s economy: Two questions to ask candidates

Ireland’s general election is ten days away. This post outlines the two most important economic policy questions that people should ask their candidates. One is about banking debt and outlines a solution that saves EU face as well as Irish money. The second is about the deficit, which still dwarves the banking crisis and means tax rises and spending cuts are a necessary evil.

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