Updated at 10.01am
THE SMALL FIRMS Association (SFA) is calling for an end to what it calls the “discrimination”against the self-employed in Ireland.
It comes as a new survey found the smallest domestic businesses were the least optimistic about the future – and the most likely to say they didn’t get enough government support.
SFA chairman AJ Noonan said that owners and managers need to be treated “at least equally, if not indeed more preferentially, than employee”.
“There is a real need to support people in embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, as without the risk-taker or the owner/manager, no jobs can be created,” he added.
The group is calling for the Government to pursue three key elements to help support the self-employed.
One of these is a voluntary PRSI rate for the self-employed, as currently it is difficult for those own their own business to claim social welfare if it fails.
“In addition, the PAYE tax credit should be available to all who pay tax on a PAYE basis,” Noonan said.
“Currently a self-employed person on €15000 is 6 times worse off than the equivalent employee, because of this discrimination.”
Specifically the additional 3% USC on earnings above €100,000 for self-employed must be abolished. This was promised by the end of 2014, but the Government failed to deliver on this commitment in Budget 2015.
The SFA also said a reduced rate of capital gains tax should be available to those selling all or part of their businesses.
Optimistic, but more help wanted
Meanwhile, a survey of 600 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Ireland found the businesses were generally optimistic about the year ahead.
But micro operations, those with five or less staff, were the least confident and thought the government wasn’t doing enough to help them.
The Magnet Regional Business Barometer, carried out by Amarach Research, said businesses in the midwest counties of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary were the most positive about the future.
Those in the Cork and Kerry regions, followed by the border counties, were the least upbeat.
The survey found just over one in 10 SMEs felt the government was offering enough support, but the vast majority were also unaware of what technology and business grants were on offer.
The smallest firms were the least likely to know what supports were available.
Additional reporting Peter Bodkin