herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Noonan rules out 1c tax on mobile text messages

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to impose a 'tax on text messages' has been ruled out by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

The plan -- which had been championed by both Labour and the Green Party -- would have seen a 1c levy on every text.

However, Mr Noonan said it would be difficult to estimate how much money would accrue to the Exchequer by any such charge.

He added a levy "could have a behavioural impact" if it was directly imposed on customers or passed on to them by mobile phone companies.



Question

As a result, it is "not safe to estimate" the amount of money that would be collected, Mr Noonan insisted.

He was responding to a Dail question tabled by Dublin North Central Labour TD Aodhan O'Riordain.

The party had proposed a 1c tax on the 25 million texts sent every day in its pre-Budget submission in April 2009.

Mr Noonan said the levy would probably be classified under the heading of stamp duty, meaning it would be introduced as an amendment to the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999.

However, he ruled out the proposal, saying: "I am not aware of a similar tax anywhere else in the world and I have no plans to introduce such a tax at this time."

Mr Noonan also pointed out that texts are already subject to VAT at 21pc.

Former Green junior minister Mary White had originally proposed the measure in March 2009, estimating it could raise €1.4bn for the Exchequer.

The party had billed the plan as a "creative way" of tackling the deficit in the public finances.

"In tough economic times, it seems a fairly equitable way of getting revenue in quickly without inflicting too much pain," she said at the time.

"It's an idea that may be trashed or implemented, but we'll see if we can put something together and put it to the Minister for Finance.

"As a mother myself, I know children love to have their mobile phones and they're very important in terms of knowing where they are to keep them safe," the Carlow/Kilkenny TD added.

"But it might be no harm if they were aware of a 1c tax on texts -- prudent economy at an early age," she said.

comurphy@herald.ie

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