Thursday 18 January 2018

Families and women are big losers in austerity drive

FAMILIES will be feeling the brunt of Budget 2013 for a long time. We have been mugged, will be the feeling many will be left with after speeches from ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin.

At least €1,000 will be sucked out of the household income of an average family.

Women were also big losers.

The move to tax new mothers could be a big banana skin that forces some backsliding by the Government.

Up to now mothers on maternity leave did not have to pay tax on the social welfare payments they get for the 26 weeks they get to spend with the new-born.

If their employer topped up this payment, only this portion was taxed up to now. But both will be taxed from now on.


In a small concession, Mr Noonan said he would apply income tax, but not the universal social charge, to maternity benefits.

And as most women are the main carers in the home, the latest cut to child benefit will keenly felt by the mammies of Ireland.

Child benefit is being cut for the third time since 2008.

The rate will fall to €130 a month for children.

This means that a family with two children getting the benefit will be down €240 a year.

Since 2008, this family will have seen their payment drop by €864 a year.

The mammies of Ireland will not take the assault on maternity pay and another hit to child benefit lightly.

Expect the phone lines into Joe Duffy in RTE to be jammed for the next few days. Many will see it as a war on women.

And if the one or both of the parents are working, the changes to Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) payments will be another big blow.

From next year all income from €1 up will have PRSI applied at 4pc, unless they are low earners. The change will mean that most PAYE workers will pay an extra €264 per year.

It may have been well detailed in advance in this newspaper, but the property tax is still going to be hugely controversial.

An ordinary house will generate a property tax of €300 when the new charge comes into full swing in 2014.

A €175,000 house will end up with a property tax of €157 next year – when half of the tax will be due.

A family with a €300,000 house will have to pay €585 from 2014 on.

And there will be little chance of escaping the charge. Workers who do not pay the new property tax will have the money taken from their pay packets.

The new measure will also apply to those who are not in work and are receiving social welfare benefits.


Documents issued by the Department of Finance last night set out that people who do not want to pay up will be left with little choice in the matter.

The Revenue Commissioners will instruct their employers to deduct the amount the tax officials estimate is due.

This will also apply to the Department of Social Protection, which pays out social payments such as jobseeker's benefit.

There will be some relief for those in trouble paying their mortgage, but they will only get to defer the tax and the concession will only apply to those whose income is low to start with.

Getting around is set to get a whole lot more expensive due to dramatic rises in motor tax.

Motorists have been spared a rise in duty on petrol and diesel, but the changes to motor tax will be increases of between €50 a year and €126.

Owners of a typical family car that was first registered before 2008 and has a 1.6-litre engine are facing annual tax of €514, a rise of €36.

For those households with a student, education will become more expensive.

There is an increase in the student contribution of €250.

Savers have not been spared, with the Government eyeing up the €92bn stashed away in banks by householders.

There will be a big hike in the tax that covers deposits.

The deposit interest retention tax (DIRT) is to jump from 30pc to 33pc from the first day of next year. It went up by the same amount last year.

And people with money in banks, credit unions and building societies will also be hit by having pay related social insurance (PRSI) for the first time from the start of 2014.

Carbon tax has gone up again, with the changes set at €1.20 for a 40kg bag of coal and 26c added to the cost of a bale of briquettes.

Calculations by accountants at KPMG show that a family on €55,000 with three children will be hit hard.

In this case, the husband works full time, with the wife a part-time sectary.

The changes to PRSI, the lower child benefit and the new property tax next year will leave them €65 a month worse off.

This works out at €780 a year.

If the family needs to buy a lot of medicines then it will be impacted by the changes to the drugs repayment scheme. The family will now have to pay €144 a month before the State will pick up the tab.

Pensions are set to be hit with cuts to the household benefits package. High-earning pensioners over the age of 70 will have to pay higher universal social charges.

And it is not as if you will be able to console yourself with a drink and a cigarette, because these became more expensive from last night.

The increase in the excise duty rate on tobacco will add 10c to the price of a packet of cigarettes.

Middle-Ireland parents who like to relax at the weekend with a bottle of wine will be clobbered with a extra €1 in excise duty.

Many with disagree with Mr Noonan who dismissed protests about the €1 whack on wine as a "Castleknock" issue.

It is not just the posh suburb in Dublin where people like a stress-busting drink of wine these austerity days.

Irish Independent

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