Call for relief on union subs
by Bernard Harbor

Fórsa has demanded the reinstatement of tax relief on individual workers’ trade union subscriptions, which was worth €70 a year to union members when it was abolished in 2011.

Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on Budgetary Oversight last week, the union said the current approach to tax relief discriminates against PAYE workers because farmers, accountants, solicitors and other relatively well-paid professionals can claim generous tax relief on subscriptions paid to professional associations and the Irish Farmers’ Association.

Fórsa lead organiser Joe O’Connor told committee members that employers also receive full tax relief on their contributions to business lobby organisations like Ibec and ISME.

Many countries – including Germany, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Australia and Canada – give tax relief of trade union subscriptions.

“Irish trade union members get less favourable tax treatment than workers in comparable European countries, and the Government’s continued refusal to reinstate the relief here is perpetuating unfair treatment of PAYE workers when compared to farmers, self-employed professionals and even corporations.

“Reintroducing the tax break would be an affordable enhancement of income restoration, and a symbolic statement that unions and their members play a valued role in our society and economy,” said O’Connor.

Tax relief on trade union subs was introduced in 2001 after a long campaign by IMPACT – one of the unions that amalgamated to form Fórsa earlier this year. Initially worth €100 a year at the standard rate of tax, it had increased to €350 by 2008. This was worth €70 a year to trade union members who claimed the relief. The exchequer saved €26 million a year after it was abolished in Budget 2011.

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