Squeezed middle shouldn’t shout too loud no matter what the stress

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There are two ways of defining the squeezed middle; one is what happens when your girth is too wide and your belt is too tight – and the other is the socio-economic sector that feels it’s paying all the tax.

That squeezed middle is what we used to just call the middle class; those who earn enough to keep a roof over their head but who have to work all their lives because there was no inherited wealth to begin with.

The squeezed part is that they feel they’re getting hit from all sides because they earn enough to put them at the top of the income-tax ladder, but they don’t earn enough to deploy an accountant to find ways of reducing the burden.

And for most of their lives, these people weren’t allowed to complain about this in public because they should have been happy to have enough to be able to keep the show on the road at a time when others were falling further and further below the poverty line.

But they also liked looking upwards and saw the next level through a glass ceiling. The view made them aware that they would forever be stuck in the PAYE sector where the only tax allowances were statutory ones and nothing was deductible beyond the bin charges.

At the other end of the spectrum – beyond children’s allowance – they didn’t qualify for any extra benefits because those were all means tested. And you had no way of hiding how much you earned.

So, they have been squeezed and squeezed by successive Governments, and there’s no one shedding a tear for them because things would be a lot worse if they didn’t earn the income that allows them to pay the tax in the first place.

But these people pay full university fees for their children; they don’t get breaks on school books or means-tested medical cards.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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