Tax reform | 

Leo Varadkar says some people are ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ amid calls for wealth tax

The Taoiseach also defended his trip to the World Economic Forum, even if some people think he is part of a global Government that “secretly runs the world”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar© PA

Senan MolonyIndependent.ie

A lot of apparently wealthy people are “all fur coat and no knickers,” the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.

It came amid calls for the introduction of a new wealth tax.

Richard Boyd Barrett, of People Before Profit, had called on the Taoiseach, in the wake of the Oxfam global wealth report to “introduce a wealth tax to start to redistribute so much huge wealth… which is not being shared equally with the people of the country who generated it.”

But on the Oxfam report, Mr Varadkar said: “We all know from past experience, that some people who are billionaires on paper, or appear to be billionaires, are actually all fur coat and no knickers.

"They have a lot of assets on paper. They also have a lot of debts and liabilities, and their actual net wealth is negative or small.”

Mr Varadkar defended his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, even if some people think he is part of a global Government that “secretly runs the world.”

He was only going for “a day and a half,” he said, and would stay for the whole thing if he was part of a controlling elite.

The reason was because he could avail of many meetings and encounters in the one place that would “otherwise take weeks to organise.”

Mr Boyd Barrett said the Taoiseach was about to travel to Davos, a conference of the richest countries in the world.

“Sorry to disappoint you. I won't be spending a few days - maybe a day and a half,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I have my responsibilities here and they take precedence.

“But there is a busy programme of meetings and engagements. There are so many world leaders, so many business leaders, in the one place for two or three days, that would be remiss not to be there.

“I'll be able to do maybe 10-15 meetings, which would otherwise take weeks to organise. That's the advantage of the meeting.”

He added: “I know there are some people that believe it's part of some form of World Government and we're all going off there to make decisions on behalf of the elites that secretly run the world.”

He further insisted to Mr Boyd Barrett: “We already have wealth taxes in Ireland.

“Our income tax system is regarded to be one of the most progressive in the world. Fewer than 1pc of people in Ireland pay more than 20pc of income tax (total revenue).”

With the Local Property Tax, “the bigger and more valuable your property, the more property tax you pay. Those who have modest properties pay a modest amount. Those who have no property pay nothing at all.”

Mr Varadkar also cited Capital Acquisitions Tax.

“That's a tax on inheritance, for example, a tax on gifts. And Oxfam pointed out in their report that in two-thirds of countries there is no inheritance tax at all. In Ireland it is 33pc. We also have Capital Gains Tax, which is a wealth tax, and the rate there again is 33pc.

"The average across the world is only 18pc.

“So that gives you a good example of the kind of wealth taxes that already exist in our country.”


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