Grattan Bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin Ireland.

Ireland’s controversial new tax-cutting budget has been described by critics as a bribe for high earners and top businesses.

The new Special Assignee Relief Programme will cut taxes for top earners, who take in between €75,000 and €500,000 every year.

Under the new scheme, the highest earners will see an exemption from paying 30 percent of their taxes over €75,000, whilst also not having to pay taxes on private school fees of up to €5,000.

Defenders of the Special Assignee Relief Programme have said the changed system will lead to an influx of top entrepreneurs and bankers from the UK, who want to remain in the EU. The Industrial Development Authority has said the move will protect the Irish economy.

According to The Social Democrats, the new tax breaks were unnecessary and large tech companies such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) already take advantage of Ireland’s low 12.5 percent corporation tax – which has caused some controversy in recent months. 

Joint leader of the Social Democrats and TD for Dublin Northwest, Róisín Shortall, said the Special Assignee Relief Programme was a “wheeze to allow very wealthy people to avoid paying tax”.

“There is no indication we are getting any benefit to the country out of this scheme. It is just another bribe for very well off individuals and an injustice inflicted on the ordinary taxpayer.

“At present, we have 3,000 children living in emergency accommodation in this state, these are official figures. Just think what that €15m which is lost to the state in terms of the Sarp wheeze could do to alleviate our housing crisis. Contrast the treatment of those 3,000 children to the tax breaks for private schools for those children of the high earning rich.”

Martin Shanahan, the IDA’s chief executive, defended the new scheme.

“Ireland’s young workforce is capable, highly adaptable, educated and very committed to achievement. We have the youngest population in Europe with a third of the population under 25 years old,” he said.

“Being able to supplement our already dynamic workforce by attracting overseas talent is a key driver for attracting FDI and Sarp is just one of many tax incentives overseas companies can avail of to scale and grow their business in Ireland,” he said.