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Dublin: 14°C Thursday 29 October 2020

Tánaiste: Taxation is not the reason for emigration 'brain drain'

Eamon Gilmore was responding to comments by Leo Varadkar that it is not normal for people in other countries on “pretty modest incomes” to hit the highest rate of tax.

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has rejected claims that Ireland’s tax regime is the reason for the so-called ‘brain drain’ where people with third-level qualifications are leaving the country for better jobs.

Speaking in Dublin this morning, Gilmore said that a distinction needed to be drawn between people who leave Ireland for work purposes and those who leave because they can’t find a job.

A study by UCC last week found that almost half of people leaving country had jobs when they emigrated, a finding that surprised many.

The Tánaiste accepted there are cases where people are leaving for a better job: “I mean this is part of the world in which we live in, people do move around from country-to-country for job purposes.

“The people I am really concerned with are people who leave the country for work purposes, because they can’t get work here and that’s why our focus is the creation of jobs here.”

He rejected claims from one Fine Gael minister over the weekend that Ireland’s income tax rates as well as other tax measures such as Universal Social Charge are the reason for the so-called ‘brain drain’.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar suggested in an interview published in the Irish Independent this morning that third-level educated workers are leaving Ireland for countries with “higher pay and lower taxes”.

Quoted on Newstalk, Varadkar said people on “pretty modest incomes” of around €35,000 hit the highest rate of tax – 52 per cent – which is “not normal in most countries”.

But Gilmore said: “Taxation isn’t the issue in relation to emigration. I think the issue in relation to emigration is much, in my view, more about the availability of work here rather than the issue of taxation.”

Minister: Of course I’m worried about the emigration ‘brain drain’

Read: Big study finds 1 in 4 rural households have had someone emigrate

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Hugh O'Connell

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