Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has accused Michael Noonan and Fine Gael of deliberately misleading voters as to his intentions regarding the Universal Social Charge.

Michael McGrath commented “Michael Noonan has been singing a number of different tunes in relation to the future of the USC.  First his party was claiming that they were for complete abolition, then they changed tack and claimed they were always intending to clawback some of the benefit to higher earners.

“Depending on which document you read Fine Gael are still telling two different stories about when the USC will be abolished.”

In their Document “Making Work Pay – Abolishing USC” published on 7th February they state “Fine Gael will abolish the USC by 2020 as part of our Long Term Economic Plan to keep the recovery going.”

Michael McGrath said: “However when you read the Long Term Economic Plan the date magically changes.  Page 26 of the “Long Term Economic Plan” highlights a “Carry-Over of Budget 2021 USC / Tax Package into 2022”.  It is clear that the State will still be collecting USC revenue in 2022 under Fine Gael’s plans despite their pledge to abolish it by 2020.

“Fine Gael is also in a state of confusion as to how they will achieve their clawback from higher earners.  Having been stung by criticism of their tax proposals Fine Gael came up with idea of withdrawing tax credits from income earners over €70,000.  The problem for Fine Gael is Michael Noonan has previously advised the Dáil that Revenue do not have the necessary systems to implement this.

“The bottom line is they have padded out the available fiscal space with a series of dubious assumptions and half-baked measures including pushing some of the USC cost to 2022, a gross overestimate of potential yield from tax on cigarettes, a magical €250m from “tax compliance” measures, unspecified procurement “savings” of €200m and €100m extra dividends from commercial semi-states.

“Fine Gael wanted to reduce this election to little more than a series of soundbites about abolishing USC and keeping the recovery going.  The reality is that their slogans do not stand up to scrutiny,” concluded Michael McGrath.