The Commission on Taxation and Welfare was an independent group that was established in April 2021 as a result of a commitment in the programme for Government.
It was asked to consider independently how best the taxation and welfare systems can support economic activity and promote increased employment and prosperity, while ensuring there are sufficient resources available to meet the costs of public services and supports in the medium to longer term. Its report was published on 14 September and I have thanked the commission for its work and will do so again.
The report is wide-ranging and contains more than 500 pages and 116 recommendations relating to the future of our taxation and welfare systems. It poses serious questions that we as a society must carefully consider. The recommendations will foster real debate around how we reform our tax and welfare systems over the longer term in order to safeguard their sustainability and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. This important work is focused on the longer term and will contribute to debates on the optimal balance of taxation for many years to come.
It is clearly set out in the commission's report that its recommendations are not intended to be implemented all at once. Rather, they suggest a direction of travel. As the report also acknowledges, the recommendations come at a difficult time economically. The commission's 116 recommendations, including those concerning wealth and capital taxes, are significant and wide ranging, and it is important to allow time for their detailed consideration. While the report, in chapter 7, explores the nature and distribution of wealth in Ireland, it states on page 129 that "a new tax on net wealth should not be introduced without first attempting to substantially amend Ireland's existing taxes on capital and wealth". The seven recommendations it makes in that chapter are, therefore, confined to existing taxes. In advance of the budget next week, it would not be appropriate for me to speculate on which specific elements of the report I might act on.