A range of tax measures due to be formalised in legislation have been introduced to reduce the cost of living for people across Westmeath by reducing the tax take per person by €415 on average annually, local Fine Gael Minister of State, Deputy Peter Burke, has stated.
“This week we see legislation coming before the Oireachtas directly targeted at tackling the cost of living; people’s tax burdens will be reduced, income tax cut-off points will be raised, and personal tax credits will be increased.
“There has been a significant financial burden of rising costs on ordinary workers and families and we are committed to increasing the amount of money people are bringing home at the end of the month. We have seen an increase in the cost of electricity, heating and other amenities and the budget amended the tax bands and cut off points to assist workers tackling these costs by reducing the tax they pay.
“Fine Gael policy is focused on raising income tax cut-off rates to tackle the cost of inflation. Section 6 of the Finance Bill 2021 contains a range of tax band and credit measures, including a €1,500 increase in the standard rate tax band cut-off point. Fine Gael previously introduced the Earned Income Tax Credit, and along with the Personal Tax Credit and the PAYE Tax Credit, it is set to increase by €50.
“Combined, these measures will be worth over €800 to couples on an average wage. This is real money that people will feel back in their pockets, money that will contribute to local communities across the country.
“Those who are continuing to work from home will also benefit from the Bill. Section three creates a new section in the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 to provide tax relief for remote workers.
“It will enable workers to claim 30 percent of the cost of their electricity, heating and broadband, on the basis of the number of days worked from home. This is the first time such a measure will be formalised in legislation, and ultimately it will reduce the overall energy costs faced by those remaining at home.
“This Bill also paves the way for householders to monetise the generation of renewable energy. Households who have energy generators such as wind turbines and solar panels will be incentivised to feed excess energy back into the grid. Section 20 introduces – for the first time – an exemption from tax for the first €200 of electricity a householder generates through renewable means that goes back into the grid.
“Due to Fine Gael policy, Finance Bill 2021 gives workers a break by reducing the amount they pay in tax,” Deputy Burke remarked.
CAO website to include apprenticeships
Meanwhile, Deputy Burke has stated that enhancements to the CAO website will include further education and apprenticeship opportunities for school leavers in Westmeath.
“The changes to the CAO website from my colleague Minister Simon Harris will allow students to see the full range of third-level options in one place for the first time.
“Students across Westmeath will now have access to over 400 Post Leaving Cert (PLC ) courses and 62 apprenticeship programmes, as well as university options, on the enhanced CAO portal. This is vital as it shows that there are worthwhile alternatives to third level which are accessible in the same way as universities. Different students have different needs, and for too long I believe we have put too much emphasis on third level, to the detriment of other similarly important routes. Up to recently, sometimes the narrative was that it was third level or nothing, which is not the case.
“The inclusion of apprenticeships on the CAO website speaks to the societal shift that has occurred over the past few years. Students, teachers and parents recognise there is so much more than university to consider when thinking about life post Leaving Cert.
“This is a significant step in making our third level sector a more inclusive environment which caters to the needs and skills of all school-leavers. It is a change which reflects education, of some form or another, is for all – but the ‘one size fits all’ model is now a thing of the past,” Deputy Burke concluded.