| 3.3°C Dublin

Workers shocked over wage cuts

MANY workers paying the new Universal Social Charge (USC) were shocked at how badly their pay packets were hit last month.

The new charge is being paid by those earning as a little as €77 a week -- bringing 53,000 workers into the tax net for the first time -- and 41pc of those polled in the latest Irish Independent/Millward Brown Lansdowne survey said the reductions were more than they expected.

That compares with 24pc who thought the loss of pay was in line with what they expected, 5pc who thought it was less than expected and 7pc who "didn't know" -- while 23pc of those asked were not paying the charge.

This likely reflects the large numbers on the live register, with 439,200 recorded as being out of work in January.

Incomes of more than €4,004 are subject to a USC of 2pc on the first €10,036 of income.

This rises to 4pc on the rest of a person's income up to €16,016, and then 7pc for income above that. Following amendments to the Finance Bill last month, the self-employed will have to pay 10pc on earnings of more than €100,000.

The Government also caved in to pressure to reduce the charge for people on medical cards but it remained a far heftier replacement for the health and income levies.

The charge has caused anger as it affects every worker in the State.

Tax experts have said that Revenue offices were being besieged by outraged taxpayers convinced that they had been overcharged when they saw their payslips last month.

Labour has said the introduction of the USC has made them abolish plans to tax high earners at 48pc but none of the parties have made any pledge to reduce or abolish the charge.

Labour's Joan Burton has said they will "seek to ease the impact of the USC" and further details of this are expected when they publish their economic policy today.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of voters are against a property tax being introduced after years of rocketing house prices.

Seven-out-of-10 voters are opposed to the introduction of a property tax while just 19pc are in favour of it. Eight percent said "it depended" on criteria while 3pc didn't know.

Irish Independent