CHILD benefit payments worth €2.26bn a year are currently made to 583,496 families on behalf of 1.1 million children.
Families receive payments of €150 per month for the first and second child and €187 for the third and subsequent children.
Payments were cut 10pc in the last Budget and concerns about further cuts intensified last week after British Prime Minister David Cameron axed child benefit payments for parents who earned more than £44,000 (€50,000) a year.
Social Protection Minister Eamon O Cuiv has indicated that all options on child benefit will be looked at in the Budget, including taxing it, means-testing it and a cut in overall rates.
However, previous attempts to tax or means-test payments have been abandoned because of legal and logistical issues in defining family income.
Mr O Cuiv said there could even be constitutional issues if married couples were treated differently to unmarried parents.