I reflected on my involvement in the Inquiry in the Dáil and you can watch my speech here. My sincere thanks for everyone’s patience over the past 18 months as we carried out our work.
Following on from the announcement of Budget 2016 we have released a guide to how the new measures will affect you.
It covers changes in taxation, health, housing, social welfare and options for the unemployed.
To see a copy of the guide click here.
If you would like any further information on the changes please get in touch with my office.
Today I spoke on the Finance Bill in the Dáil. This Bill will give effect to the changes announced in Budget 2016.
The 2016 Budget has been announced.
While there has been significant public pressure for the government to go further than it has with today’s package, I am encouraged to note that plans for next year are progressing in a responsible way.
As a result of this budget, since 2014 through to the end of 2016, the government will have increased public spending by 4%. In the same period, revenue from taxation will have increased by 14%, and growth in the economy by 18%. This is not a giveaway budget, this is prudent. And it shows us clearly that there is scope to further reduce taxation beyond this budget.
Furthermore, this budget will reduce the annual deficit to 1.2% of GDP. The national debt will fall to the Eurozone average, below 93%. Fine Gael in government will continue to be responsible with the public finances.
The focus of this budget is to continue to foster an environment where jobs can be created and investment and productivity in the economy can be increased. With more people working, we can reduce taxation while taking more in from taxes, to put towards the public good.
Some of the headline changes which may be of interest are:
- USC reductions – the marginal rate of tax falls below 50% for all earners under €70,044. Earners above this amount will still benefit by as much as €1762, depending on their circumstances. The government has committed to bringing the marginal rate below 50% for all earners if re-elected.
- Low-paid workers – the minimum wage will rise from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour, and a further 42,500 workers will be removed from the USC.
- Self-employed – a tax credit worth €550 is being introduced for non-PAYE workers. This is the “first step” and Fine Gael will equalise taxes between PAYE workers and the self-employed if it is able to continue in government.
- Property tax – the revaluation date for the local property tax will be postponed until 2019, allowing time to reform this tax. This means the LPT will effectively be frozen until 2019 at the current valuation.
- Inheritance tax – the tax free threshold under the capital acquisition tax has been increased by €55,000 to €280,000.
- Investment taxes – a revised capital gains tax relief will be introduced from 1 January 2016. A reduced CGT of 20% will apply to the disposal in whole or in part of a business up to €1million. The 3-year tax relief for start-ups is being extended to 2018.
There are also positive developments in relation to childcare and pensions:
- The pension levy of 0.15 will end this year. State pension payments will increase by €3 a week in 2016, the first increase since 2009. The fuel allowance will also increase by €2.50 a week, and the Christmas bonus will see a threefold increase on last year to 75%.
- From now on, children will be eligible for free childcare from 3 years of age, up until they are 5 1/2 or until they start primary school. In 2016, child benefit will be €140 per month for every child. Statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks will be in place by next September.
This is all very encouraging news, particularly considering the considerable work we have been doing in the constituency to identify and effect these important changes.
Later in the week we will be re-launching TaxTransparaency.ie (see here) to show you how the government will spend your taxes, in simple euros and cents. For the full details of what was announced by the government, please click here.
If you have any specific queries regarding the changes announced today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I spoke in Dáil Eireann about Tax Transparency.
This is a matter on which I have been campaigning since I entered the Dáil in 2011.
Last year I launched my website www.taxtransparency.ie. On the site you can use my calculator to find out how much tax you pay and where that money goes, in simple euros and cents. Take a look here.
After Budget 2016 is announced on 13 October I will update the calculator to reflect changes.
You may have seen or received recently a newsletter compiled by the Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton and myself with information for businesses in the constituency. It has information on supports available for small businesses, how to access finance, recent data on how the economy is doing and an update on the ‘Action Plan For Jobs’.
If you haven’t seen it, click here to see a copy. Please pass it on to anyone you think might benefit from the information.
Update, 10 September 2015
I was happy with the outcome of the Cabinet meeting this morning. The increase in the numbers we will be accepting has risen to 4,000, which is a big improvement. It is essential that we have the necessary financial and inter-departmental support to manage this effort and it appears that there is joined up thinking in our approach. This doesn’t mean we should stop at accepting 4,000 people – but personally I think this is a respectable starting point.
Update, 4 September 2015
Minister Coveney has announced that the search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean will be extended from the end of September until the end of November. This is welcome news, but more now needs to be done in terms of a longer term solution.
In July I spoke in the Dáil praising the brave work of the Irish navy in its attempts to rescue as many migrants as possible – this I believe is a worthy use of our resources and I am proud that the Taoiseach and Minister took this initiative and that it has been extended. Since my election in 2011, I have pushed for reforms of our Direct Provision system because of the inhumane way in which it treats those seeking asylum once they enter that process here. Recently a government mandated review has recommended some very strong improvements to the system.
I believe that we have a responsibility to those seeking asylum – not just to those who manage to ‘make it’ to Ireland – but to the hundreds of thousands fleeing the appalling situation in Syria and elsewhere, the people who are today dying in the Mediterranean as they try to reach safer shores. This means, quite simply, welcoming into Ireland more migrants whom are seeking asylum in Europe and giving them the human security we all take for granted.
This situation is changing every day and currently there is a debate over numbers – I believe this is a false debate. We can accept a lot more than what is currently being proposed, at least 10,000.
I have contacted the Ministers for Defence, Foreign Affairs and Justice to urge our government to take stronger action ahead of the meeting of Home Affairs and Justice Ministers of Europe, which is to take place in the coming weeks. We cannot ignore our responsibility to these people.
24 July 2015
As I made clear to the Committee on Thursday 23 July, I am completely opposed to the Banking Inquiry hearing evidence from Mr Drumm via video link. For me this is a matter on which the Inquiry’s integrity rests and may have serious implications for the future of our work.
Mr Drumm should appear in person, as he has been directed to do. Failing that, the Inquiry cannot give special treatment to a person who is of interest to the Gardaí, who will not comply with their requests and whose extradition is sought.
In the interest of the integrity of the Committee and of Dáil Éireann we cannot give protected status or legal privilege to a person who is acting in contravention of the wishes of the Gardaí, never mind the express direction of the Banking Inquiry or the wishes of the public in general.
For me it is not a matter of whether it is legally permissible or not for the Committee to take oral evidence from Mr Drumm while he remains outside the jurisdiction, in the interests of the Inquiry and the Oireachtas it must not happen.
The issue of Jean Claude Trichet’s appearance is a separate matter. Mr Trichet is not an Irish citizen and could not be directed to attend before the Inquiry. Nevertheless, he did travel to Ireland to answer questions from the Committee. Mr Drumm is an Irish citizen who has been directed to attend but has indicated he will not return to the country to be questioned at the Banking Inquiry.
The Government has published the Working Group report on Direct Provision and the Protection Process. More information about the report can be read here.
The report provides recommendations to improve the current systems and processes. The long delays for people going through Direct Provision are completely unsatisfactory – the implementation of the group’s suggestions would make a real positive difference to the people in the system.
This is the first comprehensive examination of our protection system in 15 years. The report has been compiled over the last six months and has provided over 170 recommendations for consideration. Minister Fitzgerald will begin an immediate dialogue with the relevant departments and agencies. It will be essential that the International Protection Bill is enacted early to implement recommendations from the report.
I have spoken a number of times on this issue in the Dáil and called for an amnesty for those who had become trapped in the system for far too long. I’m very glad to see that this call has been supported in the Working Group’s report and hope that it is accepted by government.
To see my most recent contribution in the Dáil on the Direct Provision system, which was made in the context of a separate Oireachtas Committee report click here.
For an earlier contribution on Direct Provision, where I first called for an amnesty click here.
Minister Noonan has confirmed that the Local Property Tax (LPT) in Dublin will not be raised in line with the continuing increase in house prices. I have argued against the design of this tax (linking the payment to the perceived market value at a point in time) since before it was introduced and I welcome the current review of the system (read more about the review here).
The Minister also indicated that Inheritance Tax will be changed in Budget 2016.
See the Minister’s comments below.
“In the last budget I announced that I was going to do a review of the anomaly whereby property values have risen. I’m not going to allow a situation where people’s Property Tax jumps by 40%, because values in Dublin jump by 40%. That’s not going to happen.
“The next valuation date is November of 2016. I think that valuation date is probably too close. But I’m telling you now, and you can take it as an absolute fact, I am not going to peg property taxes to the inflation in property prices.
“Because we brought property tax in at the bottom of the market. And there’s a recovery now, and people’s house values are going up. But they’re not going to be penalised for that.”
“In the bad times, as part of the difficulties we were in, the thresholds were cut. And the thresholds are now too low. And I’ll examine it in the budget.
“It’s worth pointing out to people, like the people you mentioned who are concerned, that if somebody is living in a house with parents, and is acting as a Carer in the house, if there’s a transfer to somebody who is already resident in the house, to a child, they’re exempt from inheritance tax. People don’t realise that.”