SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has met with the Cross Border Workers Coalition to discuss the campaign to address the ‘double tax’ facing home-working cross-border workers in Derry.
Meeting in Derry City, Coalition Co-Chairs Aidan O’Kane, Conor Dowds, and Paul Quinn spoke with the Foyle MP regarding the Republic of Ireland’s tax laws which can deny remote working to thousands of cross-border workers. The group were encouraged by the MP’s continued commitment to work on behalf of the Coalition with the Irish Government as they push for legislative change in October’s Irish Budget.
Formed in March 2020, the Coalition is an alliance of individual employees who live in the border regions of the Republic of Ireland but work in Northern Ireland. Restrictive personal tax rules mean that, if cross-border workers work-from-home at all, they can face a ‘double tax’ on their income. The group discussed with Mr. Eastwood individual cases of those affected by the issue who were unable to work-from-home pre-pandemic and faced significant challenges to their work-life balance.
The Coalition recently held a positive meeting with Irish Finance Minister Donohoe, where the Minister stated that his department will publish a report addressing the issue next month. Alongside this engagement with Mr. Eastwood, the Coalition are optimistic that a long-term pragmatic solution can be found this year.
SDLP Leader and MP for Foyle, Colum Eastwood MP, said:
“It was very encouraging to meet with the Cross Border Workers Coalition, a group I have been proud to support since its formation in March 2020. Current tax rules mean that the thousands of people who live in Donegal and work in Derry face the prospect of being double taxed by merely working from home. This simply does not work for thousands of cross-border workers and can impose a harsh penalty on those simply looking to contribute to the all-island economy.”
“Remote work is here to stay, and border cities and towns across the North have it all to gain. For remote workers, the prospect of leaving places like London to live and work-from-home in Derry is an exciting one. And by addressing this issue, we can work to combat the ‘brain drain’ we have seen and bring back our highly skilled graduates.”
“With the temporary waiver on these restrictive laws set to end at the start of 2022, the Irish Government must act now to introduce permanent solutions. The sticking-plaster approach may have worked before, but in this year’s Budget, we need to see cross-border workers having the flexibility they require to work-from-home.”
Co-Chair of the Cross Border Workers Coalition, Aidan O’Kane, said:
“It was fantastic to meet with SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP who has been a strong advocate of our campaign from the beginning. We discussed with Mr. Eastwood the challenges facing border businesses in Derry who are concerned that, from next year, they will have to advise that their employees can no longer work from home without incurring a ‘double tax’ on their income. This simply does not work for the employees we represent.”
“Ahead of Budget 2022 in October, we discussed the need for a long-term solution to this issue and the significant benefits it would bring to the all-island economy. Permanent reform would incentivise companies to invest in our border regions, bringing in more high-paying jobs and opportunities for highly skilled workers across the island.”
“We would like to thank Colum for his time engaging with us, and we look forward to further collaboration as we look to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”