Noonan’s pro-business offer serves a purpose
Published 06/10/2015 | 02:30
Finance Minister Michael Noonan will start the process of eliminating an inequality in our taxation system in next week’s Budget 2016.
Business groups have long claimed the tax system discriminates against self-employed people. The disparity arises because the self-employed cannot claim the PAYE tax credit of €1,650. This effectively means that a self-employed person is paying €32 a week more in tax than an employee.
Of course, the PAYE and self-employed taxation systems are not directly comparable, and the benefits they receive when they lose their jobs also vary substantially.
Self-employed businesspeople and farmers will now be offered a tax break worth €1,650 over the next five years – starting in next week’s Budget.
Mr Noonan has confirmed he will begin to extend the PAYE tax credit – worth €1,650 – to the self-employed and farmers in Budget 2016. But the Irish Independent understands he will commit to matching the PAYE tax credit in full over the next five years, starting with at least a fifth, or €330, in 2016.
The offer to businesspeople and farmers is no doubt intended to be on their minds when the General Elections falls in the coming months. Mr Noonan will tell the self-employed he is going to start the process and they will have to vote for his party if they want the pattern to continue, as it will be contingent upon Fine Gael being returned to power in the upcoming General Election.
Quite clearly, he intends to lock down this sector of the electorate and contrast his pro-business approach with that of the opposition.
However, rewarding those who take the initiative and bear the risk is worthy in its own right and it is beyond time that this inequality is addressed.
Overall, the €750m tax package next week will aim to reward middle-income earners who bore the brunt of the tax hikes during the downturn.
End of peat will make way for wind and solar power
Once regarded as wastelands and associated with dire poverty, Ireland’s peatlands have helped meet the country’s fuel needs for almost a thousand years.
Throughout their history, Ireland’s peat bogs – an iconic part of our rural landscape – have been forced to adapt to changing circumstances, including war, habitat conservation and, in recent years, carbon emissions.
Moves to restrict the harvesting of peat have proved controversial in the past, not least because of the strong affiliation with the historic use of turf bogs, especially in the Midlands.
However, the decision by Bord na Mona to stop harvesting peat by 2030 is both a welcome and necessary one.
Billed as the biggest change of land use in modern Irish history, the cessation of peat harvesting will pave the way for investment in greener, cleaner fuels such as wind and solar farms that communities will be able to invest in.
A word of warning: as Ireland divests itself of peat harvesting, Bord na Mona – which controls around 81,000 hectares of land – must ensure that this vital resource is managed prudently on behalf of the entire community.