I was reading through some of my notes on budget 2011 today. (Exciting way to spend a Saturday afternoon!) and I noticed the Blind persons tax credit has been reduced from ?1830 to ?1650. I began to wonder how much revenue this move would generate for the exchequer and what was the point in changing it?
Firstly I found out here at VISPA that there is 14,000 blind people based in Ireland. The only survey I could find in relation to employment among blind people didn’t cover Ireland, but did cover the UK. In the UK 25% of blind people are in employment. I am going to presume the figure is the same in Ireland.
That means out of our 14,000 blind people just 3,500 would be employed.
Presently in Ireland 50% of workers are outside the tax net. Thats set to change next year so i’m going to assume that 40% of those 3,500 blind people working are in either low paid or part time jobs and outside of the tax net.
That now leaves me with 2100 employed and paying tax. The blind tax credit reduced from ?1830 to ?1650 thats a reduction of ?180 per individual. ?180 times the 2100 employed individuals is a net effect to the exchequer of ??378,000 per annum.
Given the massive rates of unemployment in the blind community ?in Europe (Im assuming Ireland is the same ?based on this study?here) I believe this change is foolhardy in the extreme. One tiny change to the travel or expenses policy in FAS or a similar quango could net the same revenue to the exchequer.
Tax is a tool to effect social policy for example the plastic bag levy drastically reduced our use of plastic bags – A good thing. Now we have a tax change which is taxing a group in society whom we should be encouraging back into the work place.