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Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
swede relief

Top Irish earners are paying more tax than the Swedes

And those on high incomes should pay less, one group says.

IRISH TAXPAYERS EARNING €75,000 give the government a larger share of their income than workers in Sweden.

The findings come from research put together by the Irish Tax Institute as part of a Budget pitch to help the country lure international company executives.

In a comparison with eight competitor countries, including the US and seven European states, Ireland’s effective tax rate was the third-highest for people earning €75,000.

Those on the income pay €5,471 less tax than workers in Germany, but €6,136 more than employees in the UK and €9,076 more than those in the US.

Irish Tax Institute president Mary Honohan said one of the top-three priorities emerging in developed countries was to keep tax down on “internationally mobile activities” to attract people who would contribute to the economy.

Tax3 Irish Tax Institute Irish Tax Institute

“We need talent to grow our start-ups, our SMEs and to continue attracting international companies to Ireland,” she said.

The higher earners are the mobile executives and decision makers whose preference and choice of country influences where investments and jobs are located. With the growing demand for talent everywhere it is vital that we are attractive to these mobile executives.”

The group, whose members advise multinationals as well as individuals, has previously campaigned for lower business taxes and cuts to the top tax bracket to benefit those on the highest salaries.

Very progressive

However the institutes’ figures also show those on low incomes pay some of the least tax among peers in Europe. Those with earnings of €18,000 paid an effective tax rate of less than 4%, the lowest in the group of eight nations.

Tax2 Irish Tax Institute Irish Tax Institute

Ireland has one of the most progressive tax systems in the world when it comes to placing the burden of tax on higher earners.

Recent figures from the OECD’s economic survey of Ireland showed Ireland’s tax rate was well below the average in developed countries for those on two-thirds of average earnings.

It was also slightly below the average for workers earning two-thirds more than the average income, although still ahead of the tax wedge for workers in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada. The figures include income tax, USC and PRSI.


Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already committed to cutting the USC by at least 1% in the Budget, while Tánaiste Joan Burton recently said the government would give back to those earning between €30,000 and €70,000.

Meanwhile Taoiseach Enda Kenny pledged to bring the top marginal tax rate below 50% with a reduction in USC.

Tax1 Irish Tax Institute Irish Tax Institute

The Irish Tax Institute put the cost of reducing the 7% rate of USC to 6%, which would benefit 1.28 million taxpayers, at €364 million. A similar cut in the top bracket would cost €125 million and benefit 202,000 taxpayers.

USC1 Irish Tax Institute Irish Tax Institute

READ: These charts show why Ireland’s wealth divide has widened so much >

READ: The economy may be on the up, but one in six people here still live abroad >

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