Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen TD has today accused the Government of failing to maintain its promise to protect income tax rates following the announcement in today’s budget that the PRSI tax free allowance will be abolished for all workers.

He commented, “The scrapping of the €127 PRSI Exemption for those earning over €352 a week will cost each taxpayer €264 a year. Not only is this a blunt and regressive cut that will hit those on the lower incomes hardest, but it is a blatant broken commitment on income tax. There can be no hiding the fact that this is a de facto increase in income tax as it effectively decreases people’s take home pay.

“Judging by today’s budget, this is a government whose priority clearly is to protect those who have most in society. It is unacceptable that this Government is prepared to increase taxes for those earning just over €18,000 a year but refuses point blank to ask those earning above €100,000 to make an additional USC contribution as proposed by Fianna Fáil in its pre budget submission. It is extraordinary to think that Fine Gael used the basic welfare payment of €188 as a bargaining chip to protect those earning over €100,000 from a tax increase.

“Labour in Government promised that those on higher incomes and wealth would bear a greater proportion of the burden. Last year’s budget was the most regressive budget of the past four years with those on lowest incomes hit hardest.  Unfortunately, we see the same pattern repeated today. This is a hugely unfair measure targeting low paid workers.”