8 Ways Today’s 2017 Budget Changes Are Realistically Going To Affect Your Life

Your wages, your nights out... and your traditional can of Coke when hungover.

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Today marks Budget Day for the Republic of Ireland, with the Government announcing its financial plan for the year ahead.

Even ahead of time, Finance Minister Michael Noonan promised “no surprises,” and indeed, it was a fairly predictable Budget. This year’s changes were announced earlier than usual – proceedings kicked off with Noonan’s speech to the public at 1pm rather than 3pm – to give the current Dáil the necessary seven hours needed to fit in opposition talk from all parties. He promised a move away from the “boom and bust” economy of previous years, and said the Government was working on building a “rainy day fund” of €1bn annually after 2018 to safeguard against future austerity.

Due to the large number of parties and groups in Government at the moment, the speeches inside Government Buildings will be held until 9.30pm this evening, with official voting expected to go on until midnight.

Despite the speeches and voting though, the majority of this year’s Budget is locked in. Here’s how it’ll affect you if you’re…

…Earning
The minimum wage will increase by 10c to €9.25 an hour. If you’re on a contract, your take-home pay will rise thanks to a 0.5 per cent cut on the lowest three rates of the USC (Universal Social Charge) for all workers earning up to €70,000. In the last Budget, the Government estimated that it removed the USC for around 42,500 workers by raising the eligibility point from €12,012 to €13,000 – meaning that if you were earning under €13k a year you became exempt. This year that eligibility point rose by just €104.

If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking of starting your own business, you’ll be pleased to hear that there will be an extra €400 in tax credits for self-employed folks.

…Renting
This year’s budget contains a number of measures to make rental accommodation more widely available. Live-in landlords who wish to earn extra money by renting out a room in their home will get an increased tax free rental allowance under the ‘rent a room scheme’ to €14,000 per annum. This should help to keep rents at a steadier rate in some cases, and should open up more rooms for third-level students wishing to rent.

…A smoker
A standard pack of 20 cigarettes will rise to €11 due to a 50c rise in the price. The hike means our fair country will be second only to Norway for the dearest cigarettes in Europe. You’ll be pleased to hear though, that this is the only tax increase in today’s Budget.

…A drinker
No changes here. The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland once again called for a cut in excise on alcohol, but this was not carried through.

…A fan of a can of Coca Cola when hungover
Noonan confirmed that a Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax was in the pipeline for the year after next, meaning the price of most fizzy drinks will likely rise. The increase won’t be introduced until April 2018, to bring it in line with UK tax rates. There have been mutterings of a sugar tax for a couple of years, but now we have an exact date.

…Studying
Minister For Expenditure and Public Reform Paschal Donohue today promised an increase of €36.5m in spending on third-level and further education – the first such increase since the economic collapse, which Donohue says aims to ensure “that education remains the lynchpin of our economic success.”

…Job-hunting
All weekly social welfare payments will rise by €5 per week from March – that includes Jobseeker’s Allowance, Disability Allowance and Carer’s Benefit, plus an €85 Christmas bonus to those on the social welfare scheme. Donohue said the Government were “conscious of the need to ensure that the benefits of [Ireland’s economic] recovery were felt by all.”

…Hoping to buy
This year’s budget saw the introduction of a Help-To-Buy scheme, a tax rebate programme designed to help first time buyers to help “get a deposit together” for their first home. Buyers will be able to get a PAYE refund of up to 5% of the price, up to a maximum cap of €20,000. However, this only applies to newly built homes, not second-hand ones, which has caused some anger among buyers.

 

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