Belfast Telegraph

USC reforms 'will benefit low-paid'

Reforms to the Universal Social Charge will leave 330,000 low-paid and part-time workers 201 euro better off this year, the Government has said.

Anyone earning up to 10,000 euro will be exempt from the charge, which previously applied to those taking home more than 4,004 euro.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the tax change was evidence of how fair the Budget had been.

"This will mean that taxpayers will be able to earn up to that level without incurring the USC," he added.

"This measure benefits nearly 330,000 people and will assist people to move into the labour market."

However, children's charity Barnardos said even though thousands will be exempt from the USC, those on minimum wage who earn over the threshold continue to pay the same percentage as those earning 100,000 euro.

Chief executive Fergus Finlay said more could have been done to protect the most vulnerable.

He said: "Despite the increased exemption level in USC, Budget 2012 has failed to adequately redistribute limited resources in a fair way. Increases in VAT and carbon tax and the introduction of a 100 euro household tax will hit the same families targeted by many of the cuts announced yesterday."

Trade union Mandate welcomed the fact that low-paid, part-time and seasonal workers employed in areas such as the hospitality sector and farming stand to gain from the USC reform.

But general secretary John Douglas said the Fine Gael-Labour coalition could have gone further, given the other tax increases and spending cuts announced in the Budget, by raising the exemption threshold to 16,016 euro.

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