The term ‘middle-class squeeze’ refers to the situation wherein increases in wage do not equate with inflation rates for middle income earners and the cost of living continues to increase. This leads to a perceived decline in actual wages which seems to primarily affect this middle level income earners. The ‘squeezed middle’ is something that we hear in general and political conversation quite a lot in Ireland these days as the issue continues to heat up alongside the ever increasing housing prices (both rental and purchase) and the increases in the cost of living.
In recent days, Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy has taken note of these ongoing conversations and complaints and stated that this ‘squeezed middle’ are in dire need of some manner of assistance, going as far as to suggest that a third ‘middle’ rate of tax is now being considered. D’Arcy was quoted as saying:
“People accept at this stage the people in the working middle need to get something back. So what we now have to do is to help people who are in that mid-range. Both the Taoiseach and the finance minister are extremely eager to do something there. There is a train of thought that there should be a third middle rate of tax between the two rates at a lower space. We have to reduce the burden of income tax on those people.”
This will be welcome news to anyone currently floundering in the squeezed middle. The Junior Minister went on to outline that that this new tax level will rest somewhere in between the top and lower standard rates, stating that the entry point to the higher rate which is currently €33,800 is “damaging” to job creation as workers earning less than the average industrial wage (€45,075) can still be paying the top level of tax, which is an anomaly that seems to only be faced here.
Junior Minister D’Arcy also damned the culture of “welfare dependency” which has sprung up in Ireland as a result of these issues, with tax levels and the cost of living leaving many to believe that they will earn more on welfare than working when the cost of travel etc. is factored in and suggested that the strategy from this point will be to make sure that work done is paid for appropriately, and to possibly introduce this new tax bracket to allow mid-level earners to take home enough pay to live more comfortably.
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