Belfast Telegraph

Tax cuts for middle-income families

Planned cuts to income tax will be directed towards hard-pressed middle income families in next year's Budget, the Taoiseach has revealed.

Enda Kenny said that, while no solid commitment can be made to the extent of tax reductions, giving relief to the so-called coping class that has been squeezed by the last seven austerity Budgets will be a priority.

"The scope for any income tax reductions, which I have seen commented on, will not be known until much closer to the Budget and they depend upon growth rates and job opportunities," Mr Kenny said.

"But whatever job opportunities are available, the priority will be to reduce the very high tax rates faced by families on middle incomes.

"So whenever that flexibility comes, that will be a priority."

The Taoiseach insisted there will no income tax increases next year.

He said this was consistent with the Programme for Government, which is committed to getting people back to work.

Middle-income families have borne much of the financial burden imposed over recent years, with a raft in of child benefit cuts, the introduction of the universal social charge and the local property tax.

It is thought they have been left worse off to the tune of hundreds of euro per month.

Young families were hit in October's budget with a rejig of maternity benefits, expected to put some mothers 32 euro out of pocket.

The Government hiked prescription charges to 2.50 euro - up 1 euro, with a cap of 23 euro a month.

Lifestyles were also hit in the budget on October 15, with the cost of cigarettes up 10 cents a packet, wine up 50 cents a bottle, and beer and spirits up 10 cents.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach signalled reform to tax and social welfare.

He said a new report from the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare, set up by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, will be published by April.

"That's likely to focus on family income supplement, on child income supports and rent supplements, and on barriers faced by part-time workers moving into full-time employment," Mr Kenny said.

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