Noonan considers tax hike on cigarettes and alcohol
Finance Minister Michael Noonan is considering hiking taxes on the 'old reliables' - cigarettes and alcohol - to meet the spending demands from ministers ahead of next month's Budget.
The minister's officials are examining tax increases which would allow the Government "wriggle room" outside the €1.5bn spend permitted under strict European Union rules.
Mr Noonan already signalled his intention to increase tax on cigarettes based on "health grounds", but now it looks like he is set to also increase the price of a pint in attempt to free up funding for other tax cuts.
Senior Department of Finance sources said these are likely to include a rise in excise duty on cigarettes and alcohol, but efficiency savings and reduced employment figures may also allow more splurging ahead of the General Election.
"If you increase taxes that's more money you can use over and above the €1.5bn.
"So let's say he did something on the excise on tobacco and booze that brought in €100m, you would then have €1.6bn because it's on a net basis," a Finance source said.
An additional 50c on cigarettes could raise an additional €63m and 5c on the pint would bring in €33m.