Time to end the discrimination against the self-employed – O’Rourke

Published on: 18 September 2015

Fianna Fáil General Election Candidate for Kildare North Cllr Frank O’Rourke has called for more support to be provided to people who are self-employed.

Cllr O’Rourke pointed out that the current tax and social welfare system discriminates against the self-employed, and is discouraging people from setting up their own businesses.

“Self-employed people play an important role in the economy, but this is rarely recognised by the state. They do not have the comfort of being able to rely on automatic social welfare payments kicking in should they become ill or find themselves out of work. It is clear from talking with people from across Kildare that they feel this is grossly unfair,” said Cllr O’Rourke.

“While they receive the personal tax credit of €1,650, they cannot claim the PAYE tax credit – also worth €1,650 per annum. This has a particularly stark impact for lower income families. For example, a self-employed single person on an income of €17,500 pays almost 6 times more tax and PRSI as an employee on the same income.

“There is a strong case for addressing the unfair treatment of self-employed people. This should be done by means of an earned income tax credit as suggested by the Commission on Taxation. The cost of this would be €450m per annum when fully introduced. Fianna Fáil is proposing this be phased in over 3 years with an initial tax credit of €500 for the self-employed in 2016.

“Self-employed people also lack the safety net offered by our social welfare system. They do not have an automatic entitlement to the jobseekers benefit should their business not success. Fianna Fáil is proposing a series of measures to assist self-employed people. If an entrepreneur has made sufficient PRSI contributions they should have an entitlement to jobseekers benefit should they find themselves out of work. Such a measure would bring Ireland in line with our European counterparts.

“On a phased and voluntary basis we proposed to extent a full range of social protection payments including Jobseeker’s Benefit and Illness Benefit to self-employed PRSI contributors as part of our commitment to foster and entrepreneurship culture as well as enhancing social solidarity.

“People who are taking the leap and starting their own business need to be encouraged and supported, not penalised by rigid legislation. Fianna Fáil is committed towards supporting the self-employed and ensuring they are no longer discriminated against.”

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