Belfast Telegraph

Tax issues main focus of Republic's budget

By Ed Carty

The Republic's minority government will unveil a budget today with tax and spending measures worth about a billion euro.

Following last-minute talks with the king-makers on opposition benches, all eyes will be on modest cuts to income tax, initiatives to ease the country's housing and homelessness crisis, and modest welfare rises.

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's first budget in the Fine Gael government is a delicate balancing act as he is reliant on the support of Fianna Fail to get it through.

It is the second year in the Republic's history that those in power will have negotiated with their traditional political rivals.

And much like last year, the critics on the opposition benches will be watching closely to see how well the government has thought to Brexit-proof Ireland's economy.

Among the flagged reforms are an easing of the tax burden on average working families.

The so-called squeezed middle will be closely counting cuts to income tax and the deeply unpopular Universal Social Charge, which hits all but the lowest earners.

A huge chunk of the money available to Mr Donohoe will come from hikes in stamp duty on commercial property deals.

It is currently at 2% and every percentage increase is set to yield about €100m.

A sugar tax is also set to be on the menu.

Belfast Telegraph