Monday, March 7, 2011

Property and water charges still on agenda - The Irish Times - Mon, Mar 07, 2011

CONOR POPE, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

TAXES: THERE IS little by way of detail on how the government programme is likely to have an impact on people’s pockets – but with property and water charges set to be fast-tracked, the chances are people will be poorer.

The site valuation and water charges are inevitably going to be dubbed stealth taxes, but there is as yet no indication how much people will be expected to pay and when the taxes will be rolled out.

Many of the proposals mirror elements of the outgoing Government’s four-year recovery programme, published last November.

Consumers will be able to draw some relief from the news that social welfare payments will be untouched and the current rates of income tax, together with bands and credits, are to be maintained. The marginal rates on income will not be increased.

The incoming government says it will “review” the universal social charge, although it gives no indication as to what that review will involve and when it will be completed. The €1 cut in the minimum wage is being reversed and jobs which pay a maximum of €356 a week will have the lower rate of PRSI of 8.5 per cent reduced by 50 per cent until the end of 2013.

The VAT on services will fall from 13.5 per cent to 12 per cent until the end of 2013 and the travel tax, which had been cut from €10 to €3, is to be scrapped. Talks will be convened with airlines on how to boost visitor numbers.

The privatisation of the VHI is being scrapped and a system of universal health insurance will be brought in by 2016. Under this “universal primary care” system, fees for GP care will be removed.

Property tax reliefs will be reduced, capped or abolished and the site valuation tax is to be considered.

The last administration increased third-level registration fees by € 500 and while there is no details on college fees, the two parties have agreed to a “full review” of third-level funding before the end of this year.

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