Written Answers. - Tax Base.

Michael Ahern

Question:

157 Mr. M. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the scope, if any, he has to widen the tax base. [17015/96]

Over the past number of years Ireland has been undergoing a programme of tax changes with a view to increasing competitiveness and growth, and thereby contributing to the maintenance and creation of sustainable employment. A key element in these changes, under successive Governments, has been to broaden the tax base and to seek to redress the tendency for earned income to contribute an increasing share of total revenues. A number of allowances, reliefs and exemptions have been abolished, restricted or refocused across several tax heads. These measures have enabled tax rates to be reduced and the proportion of earned income taken in tax to be lessened.

Clearly, there is further scope for widening the tax base. This is a matter which receives ongoing consideration each year prior to the budget and the Tax Strategy Group has on a number of occasions examined the issue of base broadening. Apart from widening the scope of certain taxes, there is also the option of restricting or eliminating tax reliefs and allowances to make more resources available for tax reduction.

The Deputy can be assured that all relevant base broadening options will be examined in the run-up to next year's budget.