Budget 2016 didn't have any nasty surprises today, but Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin's announcement did leave a few people scratching their heads.
We expected and welcomed the USC cuts and media leaks had prepared us for the increase in tax on cigarettes, but Minister Noonan's mention of us being charged 12c for each ATM transaction had us turning up the TV in shock.
Finance Minister Noonan caught us unawares today with his mentions of extra charges on ATM transactions.
He began by explaining how the cost of a retailer accepting card payments is decreasing and how the transaction limit on contactless payment cards is being raised from €15 to €30 at the end of the month.
Stepping towards a cashless society, he believes these developments mean retailers should now bring an end to practices such as requiring a minimum payment for card use. Which is good news for the consumer.
He explained that he will remove the €5 Stamp Duty on Debit/ATM cards to encourage more card payments, but it will be replaced with a 12c charge per ATM transaction.
This does NOT mean a 12c charge on every ATM transaction however, it will be capped at the existing levels of €2.50 or €5 per year depending on card type. And there will be no charge for debit card transactions.
Essentially, we should not be paying any more for ATM transactions on an annual basis than we do now, the charge has just been shifted.
And for those really watching the pennies, if you use your debit/ATM card less than 41 times a year, you should save a few.
Consumer Affairs Correspondent Sinead Ryan added: "The charge does not apply to in-store retail purchases.
"It is not clear whether it applies to the cash-back function in shops, but it is unlikely."
2. Paternity Leave
Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin was sharing good news for parents today, but there are a few questions about his paternity leave proposal.
During his speech, Minister Howlin extended the amount of time parents can avail of the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme, which means children will be eligible for free childcare from three years of age, up until they are five and a half, or until they start primary school.
He announced over €15 million in new funding to facilitate the full participation of children with disabilities in the scheme, 8,000 more places through the Community Childcare Subvention Programme and €3 million to develop after school services in school buildings.
He also upped the Child Benefit by €5. And then he mentioned the 'P-word' - 'Paternity leave'.
"Finally, to recognise the needs of modern families and the role of fathers in the household, I am happy to announce that we will legislate for statutory paternity leave of two weeks," he said.
All we know about this measure now is that it will begin in September 2016. It is not clear whether it will apply to parents who have had children before September 1 next year.
It is hoped this will be clarified in the Finance Bill whether it can apply to already-born children.
3. Private pension levy abolished
It was confirmation of what we already knew - but it is causing some confusion.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced today the private pension levy will be abolished.
"Deputies may recall that the Government introduced a pension fund levy to finance the reduced rate of VAT and the other measures in the Jobs Initiative that I presented to the House in 2011, shortly after taking office," he said today.
"The pension fund levy has done its job and is no longer needed to fund the 9 per cent VAT rate because it is more than made up by increased activity and employment.
"So I can confirm that the remaining pension fund levy of 0.15 per cent introduced for 2014 and 2015 will end this year and not apply in 2016.
"The original 0.6 per cent levy ended in 2014."
So the private pension levy 'has done its job'. However, to clarify any confusion, this decision does not affect the public sector pension levy in any way.