Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Property tax breaks for pensioners to be unveiled

More property tax breaks for pensioners were expected to be announced today, when Finance Minister Peter Robinson unveils his plans for rejigging the household rates system.

Mr Robinson is due this morning to give Assembly members the results of the Executive's rates review - one of the first projects set up by the new power-sharing administration when it was formed in May.

A new rates system based on house prices was introduced by Direct Rule Ministers this year, but the Executive said they wanted to see if it could be improved.

The Finance Minister has already hinted that he wants to extend savings limits so more pensioners can qualify for reduced rates.

Currently anyone with savings of more than £16,000 can't qualify for rates relief.

But Stormont sources have suggested Mr Robinson could lift that limit to £50,000, meaning more homeowners would be able to hold on to their savings and still qualify for the tax break.

Mr Robinson has also hinted that he may bring down the cap on rates bills, which would cut the highest bills.

Currently homes worth more than £500,000 have their bills capped.

However, last week Stormont's Finance Committee indicated they weren't keen on a lower cap.

The committee did ask Mr Robinson to take a longer look at road charging - toll roads and congestion charges - and a tax on land which was held by developers.

They also want " green taxes", like charges for plastic bags, and recycling incentives.

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