Irish Betting Tax Hike Scrapped

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Ireland’s Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, scraps plan to double Irish betting tax. (Image: paschaldonohoe.ie)

Paschal Donohoe has scrapped proposals for an Irish betting tax hike over fears of business closures and job losses.

Following a review of Ireland’s tax system, the government was considering increasing betting tax from 1 percent to 2 percent in a bid to generate €50 million/£44.5 million in additional revenue.

However, after reading objections from gambling industry insiders, Finance Minister Donohoe has shelved the plans.

All Proposals Dropped

In total, Donohoe was considering three proposals including a move to double the existing levy. Another idea on the table was a point of consumption tax for individuals.

However, this was quickly rejected as similar systems have had negative effects on punters in other countries.

“There is the possibility of punters seeking out alternative untaxed forms of betting or a move towards unlicensed operators,” read a submission to Mr. Donohoe.

The final option was a tax based on a company’s gross profits. However, with revenue a less stable predictor of potential tax payments, a new system would require “significant additional work” before it could be used effectively.

With an increase of the current rate seen as the only viable option, Donohoe was forced to take into account appeals from industry representatives. According to a report by the Irish Independent, bookmakers warned that an increase would lead to job losses and extra costs could force business closures.

Specifically, smaller betting operators were at the greatest risk of the “potentially damaging” tax hike according to submissions presented to Donohoe.

Pressure on Donohoe to Increase Betting Tax

With all things taken into consideration, the Finance Minister decided against an increase in his 2018 budget but didn’t rule anything out. Indeed, with pressure on Ireland’s government to raise more capital, the betting industry has been in the firing line for some time.

According Statista, the UK’s HMRC had tax receipts totalling £2.7 billion between 2016 and 2017. In contrast, Ireland’s tax receipts for 2015 totalled just £60 million.

Although the UK market is significantly larger than its Irish counterpart, the HMRC has set tax rates ranging from 10 percent on bingo revenue to 15 percent general duty on net stake receipts for fixed odds betting.

This system has allowed the UK’s betting industry to remain buoyant while continuing to contribute a significant amount of revenue to the state coffers. This is something Donohoe has said he will consider when he plans his 2019 budget. 

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