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Cowen Shelves Tax Cut In Budget

by Jason Gorringe,, London

07 December 2007

Irish Finance Minister, Brian Cowen, revealed in his budget this week that he will drop a plan to cut taxes, in a bid to limit the impact of slower economic growth on the government purse.

Instead, Cowen has announced that his priority for 2008 is to concentrate on investing in Ireland's infrastructure.

Robbie Kelleher, chief economist at Dublin-based Davy Stockbrokers, Ireland's largest securities firm told Bloomberg that: "The arithmetic facing Brian Cowen is a good deal more demanding than expected."

Ireland's Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI) backed Cowen's budget decisions, releasing a statement which highlighted several of the key areas in which the Institute felt that the Minister has made positive progress.

According to the ICAI, underlying Cowen's policies was the recognition that tax policy drives behaviour.

The ICAI further observed that:

"The adjustments to the Stamp Duty regime constitute meaningful and imaginative reform. The elimination of the old step system of Stamp Duties was well overdue, irrespective of the current shape of the housing market."

"In our view, the cost of finance is as significant a factor as the capital cost of housing. Overall, the changes will provide meaningful and welcome relief to homeowners. The measure which allows homeowners to convert their properties to rented residential use after two years, instead of five, will mainly assist the rented residential property market.”

On income tax changes announced in the budget, the Institute announced that:

"Indexing the income tax bands and credits should assist employers in managing wage inflation; outside of that, income tax policy seems to be aimed at maintaining the status quo."

"Leaving the PRSI regime for employees largely unchanged was on balance a positive move."

"The reform of PRSI is not simply a matter of adjusting thresholds and rates – any reform would result in the effective introduction of an additional tax on employee income."

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