Belfast Telegraph

Lenihan amends new social charge

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has defended a controversial levy as he detailed the key measures in the Finance Bill.

Mr Lenihan stood firm over a new Universal Social Charge (USC) that took low earners into a tax bracket this month, but revealed he was willing to drop the rate for some.

The USC was introduced in the budget to replace the income and health levies, but was heavily criticised when workers opened their January pay packets.

Mr Lenihan said the charge was introduced to move away from a situation where people make no tax contribution to society and, as a result, the burden falls too heavily on others.

"As I have often said in this House, a situation where 45% of tax units pay no tax is unsustainable," he told the Dail.

"However, both the Government and I are aware of concerns expressed by some people about the USC.

"Some are somewhat overstated but others are more legitimate."

Elsewhere, Mr Lenihan said a number of reliefs and exemptions were being either restricted or abolished. These included rent relief, patent royalty exemption, tax relief for trade union subscriptions and for employer-provided childcare facilities, capital expenditure on new machinery and plant for use in mining.

For homeowners, provisions on the property-related tax expenditures will not take effect in the next tax year until an economic impact assessment on the proposed changes.

However, the Finance Bill gives effect to the reforms to stamp duty on residential property, which is now payable at 1% on residential property transactions valued up to 1 million euro and 2% on the excess over 1 million euro.

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