In the Monday edition of the Irish Times, David Begg lays out his analysis: you can read it here. It is in line with the interpretation put forward by ICTU in its recent “There is Still a Better, Fairer Way” report.
Below I make some comments on specific points articulated in the article; I will return to the broader analysis in the near future.
Comment 1: Mr Begg has persistently made the analogy to Japan, arguing that overly-aggressive fiscal retrenchment could “impart a severe deflationary shock to the economy which could precipitate a prolonged slump.” As has been persistently pointed out, this analagy is not appropriate: Japanese-style deflation is not possible for an individual member of a monetary union, since declines in the price level are ultimately self-correcting through a competitiveness gain from cumulative real depreciation.
Comment 2: Mr Begg suggests that a 50 percent tax rate on high earners (as has been announced in the UK) could be copied here. Putting together the various levies on top of the statutory income tax rate means that a top rate of effective tax in excess of 50 percent already applies and kicks in at a relatively modest income level. (See the graph in my note here.)
Comment 3: Mr Begg notes that there may be €1.8 billion in outstanding uncollected taxes. I am not familiar with the source of this number – I wonder how much of it may be explained by business enterprises that have failed (with little chance of recovery of the outstanding taxes), rather than by tax evaders.