The cost of tax breaks in Ireland
"Tax breaks will cost the State approximately €7.4 billion in 2009. If tax breaks on personal income tax and corporation tax were reduced to EU average levels, they would only cost €2.2 billion in 2009, a difference of €5.2 billion. Hence, the Government should cut tax breaks, not social welfare payments."
Ireland's economy is in as bad a mess as almost anyone's, and it has an unusually high share of tax breaks nested into its tax system: as it notes:
"In 2005, Ireland spent three times as much through tax breaks on personal income tax as the average of 22 EU countries, and seven times as much through tax breaks on corporation tax."
And it notes a 2009 OECD report which states that
“While personal allowances take the lower earners out of income tax system, the distributional nature of the other reliefs goes against progressivity as they only affect those who pay tax and benefit the highest earners the most."
It also causes sunset clauses and equality and efficiency audits on tax breaks, which are not reported in budgets, so the government has to justify their continuation.