Friday, 29 April 2016

Tax havens and the Panama Papers

Jim Stewart: This blog is about tax havens: their growth; functions, characteristics, and how they might be defined. A related blog tomorrow considers in greater detail the role of Mossack Fonseca (the Panama firm at the centre of the leak), whether Ireland is a tax haven, and some of the effects and policy issues arising from publication of the Panama Papers.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Danger of Deflation

Paul Sweeney: The danger of deflation, i.e. falling prices, is that people wait to consume and so demand falls and that ultimately puts people out of work. Deflation has been hovering around for some years but so far, it has not bitten. However, it is not far off as European countries have been enduring low inflation for some time. There is also very weak demand and little growth.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Misplaced views on the keys to competitiveness

Proinnsias Breathnach: A key topic on Ireland’s radio airwaves this morning was the publication of the National Competitiveness Council’s annual “Cost of doing business in Ireland” report.  The report featured prominently on both Morning Ireland and the Seán O’Rourke programme on RTE.

Most Irish economists and business journalists have a fixation on production costs, and particularly labour costs, as the key to Ireland’s international competitiveness.  This has the nature of a religious mantra about it, based on blind faith rather than the available evidence.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Health Inequality Worsens for Irish Children

Rory Hearne: Health inequalities affect children in a number of ways. One measure of health inequality is waiting lists for various forms of treatment or assessment in our public hospital system. The recent HSE figures show that the trend in waiting lists is worsening for children in Ireland. The numbers of children waiting to be seen in hospital day cases, for example, has risen by a third (33.7%) in just over a year (from December 2014 to March 2016).

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Rebuilding Ireland: It’s time to end bogus self-employment in the construction industry

James Wickham: As far as the tax system is concerned, many workers on Irish building sites are not workers at all.  Instead of getting wages for doing a job, they are receiving a fee for a contract.  Yet many of them are working in exactly the same way as if they were being paid wages.  Indeed, many building workers can only get jobs if they agree to work as self-employed sub-contractors rather than PAYE workers.  They are in other words, some of the new ‘bogus self-employed’.  In a recent report from the Working Conditions in Ireland project TASC documented the growth of this practice and highlighted its negative consequences for workers, for the state’s finances, and indeed for the industry itself.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

How to Fund Housing and Infrastructure

Paul Sweeney: There is a simple solution to directly funding an immediate major social housing programme and other infrastructure. It is to use the billions already flowing into the Exchequer from the sale of the shares in the rescued banks for infrastructural investment, instead of paying down the national debt. Interest on the debt is only 0.7 percent and it can be paid down over a longer period from taxation.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Low pay in Ireland: causes, consequences, and solutions

Cian McMahon: This blog provides a brief overview of TASC’s recent submission to the Low Pay Commission on the level of the national minimum wage and the high proportion of women on the minimum wage. Our contribution highlights the economic and social consequences of low pay in Ireland, while also advocating for a progressive policy response.

At 23%, Ireland has among the highest incidence of low paid jobs in the OECD. The low paid are mainly women, who represent 60% of all low paid workers in Ireland. This high level of low pay amongst workers contributes to Ireland’s high level of gross (pre-tax-and-transfer) income inequality.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Five Proposals for A New Programme for Government

Rory Hearne: TASC has produced a new report (Towards Cherishing All Equally: Five Proposals for a New Programme for Government) outlining five policy proposals that could address some of the economic inequalities in Ireland. It is hoped that those involved in forming a new government, and those with a role as a responsible opposition, will find these useful. What is revealed by our analysis of the key indicators of economic inequality (see Chart 1) is that deep seated inequalities exist in Ireland. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

More Actions Needed to Curb Tax Cheating

Paul Sweeney: The recent stories in the news that there is widespread tax evasion and avoidance by the rich and powerful is hardly new. In my last blog, below, called Good News on Corporate Tax Avoidance, I was optimistic on the role of the OECD BEPs process. 
In spite of the news I still hold that there has been some progress. The  downward spiral of avoidance and evasion is being reversed. Evasion and avoidance is still continuing on an industrial scale in the globalised economy which assists such actions, but things are changing, at last. Tax paid by multinationals and the global rich – the 1%ers – is very low, but the public is less tolerant of it.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Inequality and the Millennial Generation

Rory Hearne: A global debate is taking place about the plight of the Millennial Generation and the ‘intergenerational inequalities’ they face. This also starting to receive some attention here in Ireland. The Millennials have suffered a significant level of ‘generational inequality’ in regard to a disproportionate impact from the recession and austerity. This includes higher unemployment rates, higher increases in rates of suicide and self-harm and higher emigration rates.