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USC

Majority of voters want USC scrapped, new polling shows

The desire for the controversial tax to be abolished is consistent across the political spectrum of voters.

SEVEN OUT OF 10 Irish voters want the USC to be scrapped before the next general election, according to a new poll.

The new poll from the Business Post and Red C found that voters across the political spectrum want to see the controversial tax abolished.

Some 69% of those polled wish to see the USC scrapped within the lifetime of the current government. Nine per cent disagreed with this statement and 22% were unsure.

When broken down by party affiliations, the majority of Fine Gael voters (65%), Fianna Fáil voters (74%) and Sinn Féin voters (76%) supported the abolition of the tax.

None of those three parties are in favour of abolishing it. Fianna Fáil members rejected a motion to support scrapping the tax at the party’s Ard Fheis last year.

Fine Gael committed to abolishing the USC during the 2016 general election campaign. The party has since dropped this stance, instead merging the USC with the PRSI levy after the 2016 election.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has more recently said there are no plans to scrap the charge.

Speaking in the Dáil last year, he said: “In the context of people calling for measures earlier such as the abolition of the USC, for example, or much better packages than the Government can do today, we must not forget … that we owe a quarter of a trillion euro.

“We cannot lose sight of that. It may have appeared that there is no limitation on Government spending in recent years, but that is not true and that is going to come back to affect us.”

He also told The Journal in an interview last year that it would be “extremely expensive” to get rid of the USC. He said raising the threshold at which people pay the higher rate of the charge was an option, but not a commitment.

Sinn Féin pledged as part of its 2020 election campaign to raise the threshold under which people are exempt from paying the charge from €13,000 to €30,000.

The USC currently brings in over €4 billion a year for the Exchequer.

It was introduced in 2011, replacing both the income levy and the health levy (also known as the health contribution) from 1 January 2011. The threshold for exemption was initially €4,004 in gross income.

This was raised in the following years, to €10,036 in 2013 and to €12,012 in 2014.

The income level at which people pay the higher rate of USC has also been raised since it was introduced.

The USC was sometimes called “the bailout tax” as it was brought in shortly after Irish banks were bailed out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union.

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