A number of Labour backbenchers have called for high earners to pay more tax by increasing the Universal Social Charge in the budget for anyone earning over €100,000.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy said the measure would raise €71m and would make other budget cuts more bearable by sending what she called an important signal that those earning more were paying their share.

The proposal calls for a hike of 3% to 10% in the USC on any income earned over the €100,000 threshold.

But a Fine Gael minister shied away from the proposal saying there had already been hikes in some wealth taxes.

Lucinda Creighton said there was a fine balance to be struck in making Ireland a good place to work and generate wealth which was needed to meet the targets.

She said there have already been hikes in taxes on wealth like Dirt and capital gains tax.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin called on the Government to go further.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh said it was quite strange for Labour to come up with a change to the USC, as in his opinion, the better way to do it was by having a third rate of tax for high earners.

Speaking on tonight's The Week in Politics programme, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins dismissed the idea as a "pathetic" move by Labour to raise a "pathetic" amount of money and it amounted to what he called "a cover my rear end tax".

A Labour spokesperson declined to comment on the story and whether the proposal might be Labour Party policy.

It is understood the idea was discussed at last week's parliamentary party meeting.