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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Fine Gael promises reduced taxes, pension increases and a Brexit A-Team

Varadkar promised to increase the State pension by €25 over the next five years.

Varadkar said he wasn't going to get into auction politics on the pension matter.
Varadkar said he wasn't going to get into auction politics on the pension matter.
Image: Sam Boal

FINE GAEL ELECTION manifesto was unveiled today, entitled A Future To Look Forward To. 

The manifesto outlines the party’s pledges for the next five years.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said today that he wants to put more money back into peoples’ pockets, stating there is a squeezed middle. 

He said these people tend to have good jobs, are paid well but “by the time their income tax, their USC, the childcare, their mortgage, their rent and all their other bills, there isn’t much left at the end of the week”. 

The 100-page document includes commitments to increasing the point at which a single person pays the higher rate of tax to €50,000 and €100,000 for a couple.

Varadkar also promised to raise the USC income exemption threshold from €13,000  to €20,500. 

Dealing with the pension issue, which has dominated this election campaign trail so far, Varadkar promised to increase the State pension by €25 over the next five years. Fianna Fáil have made the same commitment. 

However, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty confirmed that a transition pension will be rolled out for those aged 66.

For those aged 65, a new pathway pension will ensure they don’t face the restrictions that apply to Jobseekers payment, and will be set at €203. 

On Housing, Varadkar said he knows improvements must be made, stating that many young people are still stuck living at home with their parents. He said the Help-To-Buy Scheme will be strengthened where buyers will get 10% of the value of the house back through a tax rebate up to €30,000. 

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who notably was not sitting at the top table with other senior ministers such as Paschal Donohoe and Simon Harris, despite housing being a key issue in this election, said that the Rent Pressure Zone legislation will be reviewed at the end of the year, adding that the percentage may be reassessed also. 

Varadkar added that rent pressure zones will have to stay in place until rents stabilise or start falling “which hasn’t happened yet”.

Other items include inheritance tax will see a tax-free threshold remain at €335,000, the next €250,000 will be taxed at lower 20% rate, while anything over €585,000 will be  taxed at 33%. 

Tánaiste Simon Coveney also gave a stark warning to those present at the press conference today, stating that he knows Micheál Martin “more than most”, adding that he does not want him to lead Ireland into phase two of Brexit. 

He said Brexit will again dominate the political agenda this year, stating that the government needs its best team. That team is led by Leo Varadkar, he argued. 

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