Change to budget measure for single parents studied
The parent who receives the credit would have the right to nominate the other parent for the credit
The €1,650 tax credit was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting after separation. Photograph: Getty Images
The Government is considering a small change to a budget measure in which a tax credit for single-parent families is to be allocated next year to the principal carer of the child.
The replacement of the “one-parent family tax credit” with a new “single-person child-carer tax credit” of equal value has been criticised by campaigners for the rights of one-parent families.
The €1,650 tax credit was previously available to both working parents sharing parenting after separation. In the budget, however, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said it will be available next year only to the parent who receives child benefit.
The measure was raised yesterday at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet and received a “sympathetic” hearing, it is understood.
The possibility of a change emerged as the Government prepared for the publication later this week of the Finance Bill, which sets out the budget measures in legislation.
The change under examination would give the parent who receives the credit the right to nominate the other parent for the credit. This would apply where the parent who automatically receives the credit does not work and therefore takes no benefit from it.
Well-placed Government sources said there was no certainty that the Coalition would change the measure in this way and stressed there was no decision in principle to proceed with any amendment.
However, one source said there was no prospect of the Government reversing the decision to have only one allocation of the tax credit per child.
The change under discussion would be unlikely to appease critics of the measure, who say the credit should at least be shared between both parents.
Campaigners have claimed the measure as set out in Budget 2014 was discriminatory and complained that it may result in a loss of more than €125 per month for some parents.
“As the principal carer is usually the child’s mother, and she may not be working, these changes mean that in many cases neither parent will now meet the specified criteria,” said One Family, which represents one-parent families.
It remains unclear whether any change would be introduced when the Finance (No 2) Bill 2013 is published or whether it might come later in the legislative process.
In light of the early budget, the title reflects the fact that this will be the second such piece of legislation this year. The first was the Finance Bill to give effect to Budget 2013.