Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Brian Lenihan's "missing millionaires"

A piece in this morning’s Indo reports that Brian Lenihan is eager to make the acquaintance of Ireland’s “missing” millionaires, who were not identified in a bank report last year (see Irish Patriotism, the Rich and Tax Returns). The report estimated the number of millionaires in Ireland to be in the region of 33,000, despite Revenue being able to account for only 12,300 citizens with incomes of over €250,000.

Gombeen Man has another suggestion. How about changing the tax residency laws to extract a belated contribution from our caste of ex-pat millionaires, such as Denis O’Brien, J.P. Mc Manus and Dermot Desmond?

Under present laws, such captains of industry only have to ensure that they are absent from the country for at least 183 days of the year to avoid paying tax here. What’s more, if they arrive in the morning, and disappear by midnight, that day does not count. They call it the Cinderella Law - which makes Lenihan (along with his predecessors) the Fairy Godmother. Not sure what we are in such a Grimm context… Tom Thumbs, I suppose? As clearly only the little people pay tax in this fairytale - for some - republic.

It’s interesting though, that whenever there is a major planning issue up for appeal, how some of these characters are very much present. Desmond’s recent appeal to Sean Dunne’s proposed development on the old Jurys site in Ballsbridge is a good example. So although such people avoid paying tax to our cash-strapped exchequer – with the full cooperation of the Government – they can still turn up and have a say in our affairs when it suits them. Where else, eh?

So, we’ve identified at least three missing millionaires for Brian to pursue. All he has to do is make a simple change to the unjust tax laws of this country.

Now why didn’t he think of that?

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Ella said...

For these millionaires paying taxing is an option, an option most of them don't care to exercise, but for the rest of us it's taken from our pay packets and given to these millionaires in the form of tax incentives. Ella.

The Gombeen Man said...

Good point, Ella. One person's tax incentive/exemption is another's increased burden.

Anonymous said...

Check out Fintan OTooles artical a few weeks back on this same issue in the Irish Times, his main point is that unlike the 80s the rich dont have to open non resident accounts or Ansbacher to hide their money, they can do it all legally now thanks to FF et all.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, I think I know the article you are referring to, Anon.