THOSE who identify themselves as second-generation Irish will be asked to pay a new 5.3 per cent ‘green tax’ under new Irish and British Government proposals.
The Irish Government will today unveil plans to tax the diaspora in a series of proposals aimed at generating revenue for those using “the Irish brand” abroad.
The so-called ‘green tax’ is being seen by some as the latest “shakedown” following the Government’s hugely successful 2013 tourism drive, The Gathering, which generated millions for the Irish state.
“Basically, the Government is telling the second-generation Irish, if you want to be Irish, if you want voting rights, then it’s about time you experienced some of the economic hardship that comes with the territory and pay your dues,” a Government source told the Irish Post.
“Being Irish is tough. It’s not all shamrocks, shillelaghs, green beer and falling around your local town on St Patrick’s Day. We’ve gone through a desperate economic period and the burden of that has to be shared among the whole global community.”
Under the new proposals, those who ticked the Irish box in the last census, and those who claim Irish identify but were not born on the island, will face an annual 5.3 per cent tax hike on top of their British income tax.
Many will also have to pay a £389 Irish ‘passport tax’, meaning that the average second-generation Irish man or woman earning £25,000 could face a yearly bill of £1653.
Irish-born citizens who have paid upwards of three years in income tax in Ireland will be exempt.
The proposals have been backed by the British Government with Britain agreeing to assist in collecting the surcharge.
The Irish Post understands that part of the income collected will be used to pay back some of the £14bn “back-door bailout” that Ireland received from Britain in 2010.
The agreement will also help fast-track both nations’ recently agreed common visa proposals, which Britain is hoping will channel Ireland-bound Chinese and US visitors, who bought into The Gathering, onwards to Britain.
Bars and shops branded as ‘Irish’ will also be taxed in a move to reel in some income from those using the Irish brand.
A high-placed Irish Government source told The Irish Post that, although the new taxes will also affect Irish-Americans and second-generation Irish people across the world, they are being specifically tailored to target the Irish in Britain.
“Let’s face it, the Irish American community did their bit for Ireland last year,” the source said. “They really bought into the whole Gathering thing and spent a fortune on visiting Ireland, buying refreshments and boosting the souvenir market dramatically. They handed over their cash with big smiles and no questions asked.
“The Irish in Britain just didn’t play ball. The covert policy of getting cash from them through The Gathering just didn’t work so we’ve had to go in with a more direct approach on them. The Taoiseach and Tanaiste aren’t stupid. They know that hitting up Irish emigrants just won’t float; that the court of public opinion will turn against them but hitting up the second-genners – who can easily opt out of the tax by declaring themselves British – will be seen as fair play.
“If they’re not going to pay the green tax to declare themselves green, then simply trade in your Irish passport for a British one; stop visiting Irish clubs and pubs and refrain from calling yourself Irish in social circles. Then you’ll be exempt. But that won’t happen. We’re confident that the pull of Ireland for the second-generation Irish is too strong to resist and once we pass the initial wave of anger over the ‘green tax’, people will just accept it and this will generate revenue for years to come.”
The new tax levies are expected to come into effect on April 1, 2015.