GOLDHAWK was surprised to find amongst the recent list of tax defaulters an operator who has received more than a little help from the Taxpayer along the way. Donegal builder, William Forker, who has long been involved with Donegal Airport, which is owned by Údarás na Gaeltachta and a group of local investors. The 71-year-old William sat on the board of the airport’s operating company until 2001 and still serves as a director of a company called Togail Dun na nGall Teo, which holds one of the biggest stakes in the airport. In all, Forker controls about 10% of Donegal Airport, which showed accumulated profits of €601,000 at the end of April 2007. Aside from Údarás pumping plenty of cash into the company for its shares, the agency also provided nearly €180,000 in grant aid in the last financial year (during which Donegal County Council also coughed up a €50,000 grant). Moreover, Údarás told Goldhawk that it handed over a €200,000 grant in 2008 for upgrading the airport while also approving a three-year €65,000 grant for staff training. The Department of Transport, meanwhile, told Goldhawk that it has provided nearly €800,000 in grants to the airport so far this year. Nevertheless, Forker had to make a whopping €825,000 to Revenue for tax dodging activities over the past 4 decades!
MORE workers are paying tax at the higher rate than ever before.
Ireland is now "probably the only country in the world" where such a high proportion of the workforce is paying the top rate tax of 42pc, the Labour party said.
The party's finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said it was the "central injustice" of the Irish tax system that one-third of taxpayers were paying the top rate on modest incomes.
Millionaires were able to arrange their affairs to avoid paying any tax at all, she said.
Figures provided by Finance Minister Brian Cowen to Ms Burton yesterday show 25,000 more people are paying tax at the 42pc rate.
This was despite a Government commitment to the electorate and the social partners to take 80pc of taxpayers out of the top rate.
A single person now only had to be earning €33,000 a year to be dragged onto the top rate, which most countries only reserved for their super-earners, she said.
Despite a Government commitment of many years to reduce the proportion paying top rate to one taxpayer in five, it now amounted to one in three, Ms Burton complained.
Failing to index bands or increase allowances during the current Government had amounted to a "smash and grab raid" on PAYE taxpayers, Labour said.
"Figures released to me reveal that in 2005, 666,000 workers or 32.85pc of income tax payers will pay tax at the top rate, as compared with 641,000 paying the top rate in 2004," she said.
"The last three budgets have been characterised by the greatest stealth tax of all on PAYE workers through the refusal of the Minister for Finance and his predecessor to index the standard rate band," she added.
The effect of this was to drag the majority of those who pay tax into higher rate bands.
A single worker earning €33,000, just about the average industrial wage, would pay tax at 42pc on overtime earnings or bonus payments.
"Contrast this with the continuing scandal of some millionaires who pay no tax by availing of the plethora of tax breaks available.
"Once again, we see that this Government has failed miserably to honour its commitments to the Irish people on critical tax and public spending issues," she said.