Burton in climbdown on taxing child benefit
SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton finally admitted yesterday that child benefit for high earners will not be taxed in the upcoming Budget.
This is because the Revenue and Social Protection computer systems are still unable to share information that would identify the high-earning parents receiving the €140 monthly payment.
However, Ms Burton refused to say if this meant that a flat rate cut was the only option for reducing the annual €2bn child benefit bill in the Budget.
"In the autumn, there will be detailed discussions in Cabinet," she said.
It came after Ms Burton had floated the idea of taxing child benefit payments for people earning over €100,000 as her "personal preference" rather than the means testing favoured by the IMF.
But her department had been unable to say how much money would be raised or how the technical problems would be surmounted in time for the Budget.
Ms Burton confirmed yesterday that joining up the computer systems of the Department of Social Protection and of the Revenue Commissioners to tax child benefit payments would require "a fair amount of work".
There are around 113,500 people earning more than €100,000 but due to the lack of link up between the government computer systems, it is not known how many of them are getting child benefit payments.