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Snippet Contents:

On the day when the unemployment figures are again showing an improvement and down to 11%, it is important to remember a few of the important points on the taxation measures included in the budget. The measures include the reduction in the top rate of tax from 41% to 40%, the increase in the standard tax rate band by €1,000, the USC rate cuts and the raising of the USC threshold to over €12,000, and the reduction in the pension levy from 0.75% to 0.15%, as well as its planned abolition in 2015. There is also certainty regarding the 12.5% corporation tax rate, which is very important in a constituency like mine, in which there are a number of multinational companies creating and providing employment.
There are a number of other positives not included in the Bill such as the decision not to increase the excise duty on alcohol. This is particularly important for the rural pub trade which mounted a strong campaign. We are aware of the importance of rural pubs as focal points for rural communities. I also point to the decision to retain the 9% VAT rate for tourism which, again, is hugely important in parts of my constituency such as Galway city, Connemara, the Aran Islands and Inishbofin Island.
On the arts, section 5 of the Bill increases the threshold by €10,000 to €50,000, meaning that the first €50,000 in profits earned by artists will be exempt from income tax. This is an important measure for the arts and the creative sector and, again, hugely important in the constituency of Galway West.
Section 11 extends the home renovation incentive to include rental properties and is also hugely important. Some substandard properties are being provided for students and others and this incentive will allow landlords to invest and improve these facilities to make them safer and warmer. I welcome the incentive, given, in particular, the success of the previous incentive provided in the non-landlord and non-rental market.
I welcome the decision in section 24 to extend the employment investment incentive scheme to medium-sized companies. We know the importance of micro and medium-sized companies in terms of the employment they create and it is important to extend the incentives available to recognise these important companies.
I welcome the decision in section 34 to extend corporation tax relief until the end of 2015.