Government officials have warned Irish Minister for Finance that high earners are likely to flee Ireland if he raises taxes again in the Budget, set for next month.

Currently many key Irish figures including U2 members, and billionaires Denis O'Brien and JP McManus, are personal tax exiles from Ireland and many others are set to establish residencies elsewhere if punitive new tax measures are introduced

The news comes as reports that up to 25 top scientists and researchers who were recruited to come to Ireland are now not coming because of fears about the economy there. The Sunday Independent reports that grants had been approved for 19 of them but have now been shelved.

According to the newspaper, Department of Finance officials are also warning that the emigration of "even a small number" of Irish high-fliers would have "a disastrous effect on the income tax base."

The document outlines how the emigration of even one person earning more than $150,0000 a year would force the government to replace that person with an additional 132 workers in the tax net to make up the loss.

The document states "This means that for the joy of inflicting more pain on one of the highest income earners, we run the risk of having to tax an additional 132 of the lowest-income earners."

In the tax year 1999/2000, the top 4 per cent of income earners paid 33 per cent of the total tax bill.

The document also shows that next year almost 1.8 million people or 80 per cent of the workforce will earn under €50,000 a year, and pay 18 per cent of all income tax.

It states: "Emigration of a very small number of such income earners would have a disastrous effect on the income-tax base that is desperately required to fund public services."