The purpose of this amendment is to ensure the budget is amended to return to ordinary workers some of the money the Minister for Finance is taking by stealth from their pay packets. The Minister and Fianna Fáil are refusing to address the unfairness at the heart of our tax code. The Minister looks after his friends, the very wealthy, those who own bloodstock and are breeding stallions and those who are non-resident for tax purposes but are able to attend every race meeting and glitzy social function in the country. However, the person on PAYE may look out. We heard the Minister for Social and Family Affairs acknowledge the relative gap between the rich and the poor in Ireland has increased incredibly during the period of the Minister for Finance's seven budgets. Now there are many more well-off people and the Labour Party is very proud to have been part of the critical moves made to make the country prosperous and to increase employment, but that has not benefited everyone. Unfortunately the relative gap has grown between rich and poor people, such as widows, those on low incomes and those who are unemployed or disabled. Children are also living in poverty. We are trying to ensure that our tax system is reformed in a realistic way so taxpayers have a fair deal. Everyone should pay his or her fair share.
In moving this amendment I want to fire a warning shot across the Minister's bow. At the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis last weekend, the Taoiseach, the Minister and other Fianna Fáil Ministers were very arrogant. They are assuming with the relatively favourable economic outlook that people will forget what the Government has done in cheating people of a fair share of the country's prosperity. We have a mad scramble for wealth which is having negative consequences for society. As we have seen in recent court cases, it is producing a society for parts of which over-consumption is having negative consequences. It makes family and community life very difficult. The only people to whom we are supposed to look up are the Minister, Deputy McCreevy's friends among the super-wealthy and tax exiles. They are to be lauded at every street corner if they give a few bob to charity, yet they give nothing like wealthy American philanthropists who donate between 2% and 3% of US GDP. In Ireland it is poorer people who contribute in the greatest numbers to charities like the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Trócaire and Concern.
The Minister and his Fianna Fáil colleagues are very proud of having created a two-tier society. The Minister spoke about people on incomes of over €150,000 contributing 28% of the income tax take. As the Revenue Commissioners' figures are gross rather than statistical, they are very difficult to analyse. As I said before the suspension, the Minister's €150,000 figure relates in many cases to two-income families. A married couple consisting of two civil servants above principal officer level would have an income in excess of that amount and therefore would count among the wealthiest for tax purposes. The reason is that the income for tax purposes of many well-off people is significantly reduced because it is not taxable as in the case of stallion and stud fees. Such people also take advantage of schemes such as self-administered pension schemes, contributions to which are deducted with the effect that their reported income is much lower.
I hope Fianna Fáil agrees to amendment No. 2 to restore some sense of equity to the tax system.