Tánaiste Leo Varadkar unfairly attacked the Tax Commission

As the Commission on Taxation and Welfare report points out, tax and welfare policies are among the most effective tools at the government’s disposal to influence the living standards of the country and its people.

Thus, tax and welfare policies are central to the broader social contract and are therefore at the heart of this country’s democratic tradition.

The Commission’s report was released last week on undue controversy at a time of rapidly rising inflation, which is having a serious impact on household living standards and is causing major concerns among the majority of citizens.

The controversy related to a charge of “politicizing” against Tánaist Leo Varadkar, who said some of the recommendations in the report were “straight out of Sinn Féin’s manifesto.”

Commission members came from a wide variety of backgrounds and brought to their work a range of expertise from relevant areas, including tax, social policy, economics, public administration, business, business, law and wider civil society.

Referring to the Commission’s proposals on inheritance tax and in particular increasing the tax on savings, Mr Varadkar also said: “There is absolutely no way that will happen while Fine Gael is in government.”

These statements were overtly political, despite Tánaiste’s later denials that he had politicized the work of the commission set up in April last year as a result of a commitment in the government programme.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has distanced himself from the Tánaiste’s statements.

However, it is clear that with these comments Mr Varadkar wished to highlight a difference between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin in relation to tax and welfare policies and used the publication of the Commission’s report to address constituents directly, in particular on two recommendations which could be said to affect better-off voters.

A commissioner later said he was “stunned” and “very disappointed” by the Fine Gael leader’s comments, which indeed his members rightly felt.

Mr Varadkar has since sought to back down from the controversy he himself stirred up, his spokesman later describing what he had said as a “rather disposable remark” and pointing out that the Tánaiste referred to “a couple of points ‘ to the extent of the Commission’s related report. Mr Varadkar also belatedly thanked the Commission for its work.

As the Commission also states, its role is to put everyday concerns aside and advise the government and the public on how tax and benefit systems should be reformed to meet the needs of the country.

At a time of rising inflation with no end in sight, and at a time when shifting geopolitical alliances are threatening established globalized systems, one could say that the Commission’s work has never been more relevant or important.

It is disappointing that Mr Varadkar could not have picked a leaf from the Commission’s book and taken the opportunity to take this opportunity to put his day-to-day political concerns aside.

Given Ireland’s demographic profile, levels of public debt and a range of other fiscal risks, the report requires close scrutiny by the government and future governments.

https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/tanaiste-leo-varadkar-wrong-to-attack-tax-commission-41997173.html Tánaiste Leo Varadkar unfairly attacked the Tax Commission

Fry Electronics Team

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