Lowest earners both winners and losers in Noonan’s fourth budget

Latest budget calibrated to ensure many on low incomes can take advantage of tax cuts

In percentage terms, the biggest beneficiaries will be those with a gross income of less than €12,000. Photograph:  iStockPhoto

In percentage terms, the biggest beneficiaries will be those with a gross income of less than €12,000. Photograph: iStockPhoto

 

This was the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan’s, fourth budget, but the first to leave at least some people marginally better off.

Mr Noonan’s latest budget was carefully calibrated to ensure that many people on low incomes are able to take advantage of a range of tax cuts. In percentage terms, the biggest beneficiaries will be those with a gross income of less than €12,000.

This group will no longer have to pay the universal social charge (USC), which will save them €279 a year and see their take-home pay increase by 2.7 per cent a year.

While they will benefit from the scrapping of the USC, they will lose when it comes to water charges, however, as a tax relief package aimed at offsetting at least some of the charge, which could be worth up to €100 a year, will be unavailable to them because they do not earn enough money to pay income tax and so cannot claim the relief.

A spokesman for Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton last night said the department would have to “examine the situation”.

Anyone earning between €12,000 and €15,000 a year will be entitled to feel most aggrieved by the changes as not only will they not qualify for the tax relief on water charges, they will also earn too much to avoid paying USC.

While the rate at which those on €15,000 will pay will fall by half a percentage point – the bill coming down from €399 to €285 – their income will only increase by 0.8 per cent, the same percentage increase afforded to those who earn more than €175,000.

The big winners are those earning between €45,000 and €75,000. A single person with no children working in the private sector on a salary of €45,000 will see their income tax bill fall from €8,256 to €7,940, while their USC bill will fall from €2,469 to €2,295 – an annual net saving of €496, or 1.5 per cent.

A single person earning €75,000 will see their combined tax and USC bill fall by €747 a year, a 1.6 per cent reduction on 2014. They will also be qualify for the water charges tax relief credit - worth about €50.

Households with children under 18 will also gain, with one of the few surprises of a widely leaked package coming when Mr Noonan announced that from next year, the children’s allowance would climb by €5 a child a month. This will take the total child benefit for a two-child family to €270 a month. In 2008 it was €332.