Carbon taxes and healthcare issues among Budget 2020 questions posed online

A team of experts from The Irish Times and PwC answered budget questions online

Workers install solar panels on a roof. Several readers wanted to know about the State’s deep retrofit scheme. Photograph: courtesy of Construct Ireland

Workers install solar panels on a roof. Several readers wanted to know about the State’s deep retrofit scheme. Photograph: courtesy of Construct Ireland

 

Retrofitting, carbon taxes and healthcare were among the priorities for our readers this morning when a team from The Irish Times and PwC answered Budget 2020 questions online.

With Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe speaking for more than an hour and spreading the limited additional spending and tax cuts thinly across a wide range of areas, there was confusion over exactly when many of the measures will kick in.

This was true particularly of health where people wanted to know when the broadening of the income limits for access to a full medical card by people over the age of 70 kicks in. The Government expects up to 56,000 people to benefit from the proposal, which will allow single people earn €50 a week over current income thresholds and couples €150 from July 2020.

Other health measures will see the monthly threshold for the drugs payment scheme for those not on a medical card fall to €114 from September of next year while there will be a reduction of 50 cent in prescription charges from July.

The extension of free GP care to children under the age of eight and dental care up to the age of six is also almost a year away – kicking-in in September 2020.

With so much of the attention in the budget on measures to drive forward the Government’s climate action plan, several readers wanted to know about the State’s deep retrofit scheme. A pilot project for the grant-aided scheme was shut down early due to unprecedented demand.

There was no suggestion in the budget of a return to the pilot projects format; instead the Government said it was planning to focus on energy-proofing large groups of houses at the same time, starting with social housing in the midlands. It is hoping to upgrade 24,000 properties with a budget of €146 million, according to Government documents.

Elsewhere, there was confusion about new taxation of emissions and incentives to switch to electric vehicles.

The new nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions standard will apply only to vehicles as they are being registered in Ireland for the first time – ie either new or imported from abroad – and is designed to penalise especially older diesel imports which are the most polluting vehicles on the roads.

There were also questions about a scrappage scheme to encourage a switch to electric vehicles and whether there was a cap on the value of electric cars purchased by people looking to avail of the €5,000 electric vehicle grant. No, and no, were the answers.

Among a plethora of other issues, there was interest in changes proposed for the employment and investment incentive scheme (EIIS), where income tax relief will now be available in year one rather than in two tranches over years one and four.

There was also a 66 per cent jump to €250,000 in the annual cap on investment by individuals as long as the money is invested for 10 years or more.

You can find the full list of questions and answers here.