Sunday 21 December 2014

Charlie Weston: Now there's almost no incentive left for saving

Published 22/10/2012 | 05:00

Picture posed. Thinkstock
Picture posed. Thinkstock

SOMETIMES it seems as if the Government is doing all in its powers to rob workers of a decent retirement.

And that is illogical, because if people can't fund their own golden years the burden will fall on the State.

Last week, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the tax relief available to workers to encourage them to tie up money for decades for a pension will be cut.

At the moment, higher rate taxpayers get relief at 41pc. This means that for every €100 put into a pension it costs the worker just €59. But if the tax relief for pension contributions drops to 20pc, it will cost €80 to put €100 into a pension.

Now research carried out by actuarial consultants Milliman shows that 550,000 workers will end up effectively being €830 worse off per person. If this new reduction in tax relief goes ahead it will be the latest assault on the incentives for pensions saving.

We have an annual €470m levy on private pension assets, previous cuts in tax relief for employers and employees, and savage regulatory rules.

No wonder four out of 10 people have stopped contributing to a pension or have radically cut back what they were putting in.

Tax reliefs are one of the few arguments left for locking money away for as long as 40 years.

The Government could meet its cuts target by restricting the size of pension that could get tax relief to no more than €60,000 a year.

High earners would lose out, but most would benefit from this.

This truly is a pensions-unfriendly Government. But then, like governments of old, all the cabinet members -- who have massive taxpayer-funded pensions -- can think of is the next election.

Somebody should tell those bods in the Dail that pensions are not to be raided at random for day-to-day state funding.

Pensions, after all, are deferred earnings. It is your wages of today being put away for tomorrow.

Hands off, Mr Noonan.

Irish Independent

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