Belfast Telegraph

Report set to examine the viability of cutting taxes in Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

An investigation is to be carried out into the viability of cuts to tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax in Northern Ireland, the DUP has confirmed.

A report in the Daily Telegraph said the DUP was poised to demand more tax cuts costing £460m to keep Theresa May in power after Brexit in two years' time.

But the party said the review to be conducted actually formed part of its present deal to prop up Mrs May's minority Conservative government, rather than the next phase of the arrangement.

It was reported that Arlene Foster's party would demand £90m to cover the cost of axing APD at Northern Ireland's airports and £70m to fund cuts to VAT - from the current 20% to 9% - on hotels, restaurants and pubs.

Hospitality Ulster has said the reduction could create up to 8,500 jobs in the tourism sector.

A DUP spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph, however: "Tourism VAT and airport passenger duty are both matters to be addressed through a report as part of the agreement between the Conservatives and ourselves to establish if both measures are feasible and what is the best way to proceed."

The issues - along with the implementation of corporation tax cuts - are among the matters which it is understood will be dealt with by a new liaison committee set up between the DUP and Tories.

The report also said the DUP will ask Chancellor Philip Hammond for an additional £300m to cover the initial shortfall in tax receipts after the cut in corporation tax from 19% to 12.5%, which is due in the province from April 2018.

Meanwhile, former DUP MLA Trevor Clarke - who admitted last year that at one point he believed only homosexual people could contract the HIV virus until he was informed by a charity - will be back in the Assembly, if it gets up and running.

Under rules to prevent double-jobbing, Mr Clarke has been co-opted to replace Paul Girvan, who became an MP, after winning the South Antrim seat from ULster Unionist Danny Kinahan in the General Election.

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